New Credit Card Activation – Easy Phishing?

I’ve always found credit card activation through the phone system very insecure. I’m always afraid I might dial the wrong number by accident, so I always triple check the number I punch into my phone before I start entering any information. I mean consider the information they ask you during activation:

  • Full 16 digit credit card number
  • Last four digits of your social security number
  • 3 or 4 digit credit card code

If you reach a customer service, they might even ask for more information, like name and birthday. I mean if I misdial the number even by 1 digit, think of the potential identity fraud I could land myself in.

Several credit cards have implemented an online system to activate new cards, such as American Express, which I prefer to use instead of the phone.

Something I think that should be implemented is a 2-way verification. Meaning, they prove to me who they are, before I provide any of my real information. Something like a system where they include two x-digit numbers in the letter that accompanies your card or even on the sticker of new credit cards. You punch in the 1st number and the telephone system tells you the 2nd number. That way you can confirm the other side is really the bank that issued your credit card.

Of course, this doesn’t prevent random companies from sending you fake credit cards and stealing your information. However, you should never activate random credit cards, especially ones you don’t remember applying for.

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