Barclays Fraud Debt, again

I am dreading it.

I can see that Barclays have obviously decided something is up, as my card is blocked when buying stuff, again. Blocked when buying top up for smartstamp, as we do every couple of weeks, even with the annoying "verified by visa" crap I have to go through every damn time.

I can also see that there are no unexpected transactions or authorisations on my account, so no reason for them to have done it.

So, do I waste half an hour of my life calling their fraud department only to go through the recent transactions and say "yes, that was me, like I do every time I buy from them" half a dozen times.

Or do I await the inevitable call from a withheld number only to spend half an hour arguing how giving personal information to a withheld number caller is exactly how card details get compromised in the first place, and "have I passed the test?" Only to then have to spend half an hour calling their fraud department anyway?

It is so fucking annoying - they are protecting their own arse's here, not mine. If there has been any fraud, it is them that have been defrauded, not me. I really am sick of it.

I may call and start (recorded) with "if this turns out to be not fraud I will charge for my time making this call, OK?", followed by "what? do you work for free or is your time valuable too?" if they say "no".

Sick of it.

Update: Due to the tweet, Barclays are looking in to it - if this can be sorted without a call, I will be amazed.

Update: I think I see the trigger, eventbrite putting a transaction through as USA. If that is the cause then it is not any fraud (to bank or me) but highlights the stupidity as that transaction has gone through, but serious business affecting transactions like us paying Royal Mail to top up postage with verified by visa checking being blocked. We pay Royal Mail every few days for postage, yet they blocked it. I have had to expense it on my personal card, which is hassle.

Update: As expected, they could not sort by email, and even when they called (from an 0800) about my complaint they could not actually sort the issue, only saying that I would still have to call the fraud dept. I'll do it, but i have told them that in future I expect to be paid for my time. They really struggle to understand that "thinking there was fraud" when there is not is a "mistake" and that they should, perhaps, maybe, pay for their mistakes.

Update: 25 minute to fraud dept and unblocked. What triggered it? Paying annual RIPE NCC fees, as we do EVERY YEAR! And who the hell would buy RIPE membership, fraudulently, OMG!


  1. Fraud prevention sounds like such a great idea but they're so hopelessly inept at it, as your example shows. Their blocking is just random and senseless.

    Unfortunately spending half an hour dealing with them every few weeks/months is the price of modern life.

  2. There's something about your pattern of transactions which is triggering it, the question is what. In the end fraud detection algorithms are nothing more sophisticated than a few machine learning algorithms and a set of manually set rules to catch obvious cases. Either you escalate and escalate until you find someone who can whitelist the purchases which are messing with your profile; figure out what's triggering and change behaviour; or change banks and hope they don't buy their fraud detection from the same company. Messing with the phone drones might be fun but hardly likely to be a useful exercise of your time.

    If I were to guess at the variables:
    -Type of account business or personal (Using a personal card for work and then expensing it would probably screw with this as the two very likely have different distributions)
    -Where you live
    -Whether you've suffered identity fraud in the past
    -Fraud level of retailer (which confounds with the next two)
    -If they get line-level info from that retailer fungibility of goods purchased
    -If they don't get line-level info from that retailer general fungibility of what they sell (electricals, gift cards and stamps)
    -Time of day of purchase
    -Location of purchase
    -Whether you've purchased something at a retailer with known compromise in past (target etc)

  3. I was going across The Pond for Christmas/New Year, so I went into my local Barclays branch to tell them so. "We don't actually record that any more, but can you confirm your phone numbers so we can contact you if there's a problem?" - I did so.
    While I was away I bought some stuff and went to pay for it on PayPal, using my Barclay's account - it came straight back "Refused" without any "Verified by VISA" or any other attempt to confirm my identity (I even had my PIN Sentry device with me and everything!).
    Ten minutes later I received a text message telling me there was something wrong, and that they'd be sending me a text message about it (!), Then the text specifying the amount, and the payee, and asking me to text back "Y" or "N" saying if it was valid.
    Two things wrong with this:
    1) The text reply number was 5 digits - a UK-only number which doesn't work from the 'States, so no way I could reply!
    2) The transaction on PayPal had already been cancelled at the time it was refused, so even if I told them it was valid, it couldn't have been reissued. No idea whether trying to set up a new, identical payment would have got through.
    I sent in a complaint to the appropriate part of their web site, and got a "We'll be back to you within 48 hrs" reply. But then nothing else.
    This week, back in Blighty, I went into the local branch and told them all of this, and the lady I saw was very efficient, and sympathetic (really, not just in a corporate-response way!) but couldn't find my complaint, and neither could their "Network Assist" team when she rang them, so she re-entered it onto the system, and it's now in progress.
    But she confirmed that their "On Holiday" flag is no longer used, and there's nothing I could have done to prevent this happening.
    I had to transfer the money to another bank, and pay for it using that one - theirs worked as I was expecting and I got my stuff in time to bring it home (VAT-free, as it's under the £390 limit).
    I await their response with interest, especially to the fact that their "confirm" text only works in the UK!

    1. I'm actually quite surprised the 5-digit number wouldn't work on a UK phone whilst roaming. Reason being I'm pretty sure you still use the "home" message centre when even whilst roaming. Out of interest what error message did you get when you attempted. Anyone who knows more about GSM care to explain what's up?

    2. Sorry, I didn't note the message - something like "unable to send" but it was a while ago and I wasn't paying much attention to the words, just the meaning!
      I don't think you do use the home message centre, as the cost is at a US level, 42p to send, I think. (Receiving text is the only thing that's free - phoning is £1.30/min, receiving a voice call is 70p/min, all rounded up to whole minutes).

  4. Dammit! I just spent five minutes typing in my story of woe with Barclays and their fraud detection, when I pressed "Publish" I had to log in to Google, and then it returned here with all my carefully crafted prose gone!
    I really can't be arsed to type it all again...
    Does this happen to anyone else, or am I just "lucky"?

    1. This happened to me too on this blog, make sure you are logged in before typing comments. Otherwise you lose it all while logging in. You can cut and paste to preserve the text if you realise you're not logged in.

    2. Google show you a "your post is waiting for approval" for only a few seconds before returning the page to normal. Easy to miss and think you lost the post.

    3. Happens to me all the time. But the comment has been posted, the bug is that the usual flash message saying "your comment has been received and is awaiting approval" doesn't appear if you were redirected away to log in first, so when you get back here all you see is an empty comment box. It's even worse if you have multiple google accounts; switching between them is basically impossible and then you really do lose your comment (this is the second time I've written this!)

    4. Thanks chaps, you're right, it did actually "take", but the missing "waiting for approval" message makes it look like it's gone.

  5. Sigh, I got the same call today.

    I give up in and do it, as their automated system is easier than talking to someone and only asks for date of birth (which anyone could easily lookup for me anyway).

    What had triggered it in my case? Two paypal transactions (20 quid and 40 quid), and a chip & pin payment to a local carpet cleaning company.

    I make 20+ paypal payments a month, and can't see what's overly suspicious about using a local carpet cleaning company.

    I mostly use my amazon credit card now (which I think is just MBNA). They seem rather more organised / less trigger happy.

  6. This is one reason why lots of people are interested in bitcoin.

    I won't discuss its merits and problems here, but the point for this is that if you want to pay money to someone, and you possess the private key to an address that has the funds then nobody else gets to decide if you are allowed to spend your own money or not.

  7. Do you have a "I'm a potential of phishing attack" contact? If so ring that up every time you get blocked explaining it must be someone trying to get you to follow some "dodgy" process as you make this regular payment etc. Let one department fight the other...I must say that same company have been good with me over many years so they can do it!

  8. Once, BoS told me they were surprised to see a transaction from France as I hadn't told them I was going, hence they blocked my card. In fact, I paid for Internet access in a hotel in Birmingham that charges for it through France.

    NatWest did me the disservice of blocking my card one Saturday afternoon. They let my big grocery shop, and a transaction at another store, through, but blocked it when I refuelled the car. The garage were hopelessly inept at dealing with the situation - it probably took 45 minutes total there for what is normally a 10 minute job. That sorted, they had the brass neck to write to me about the same transactions they wanted me to confirm and phone me about them. I actually told them "block my card there again and I'll charge you what you charge me for a bounce". I don't think they took any notice but I have not had that card blocked again.

    1. Halifax allowed a £500 iphone purchase to go through but blocked a £1 SIM a few minutes later. They also had a regular habit (every couple of weeks) of blocking on Friday afternoon, so by the time I noticed their fraud dept was closed until Monday.. which is why I left.

      HSBC were fine until they outsourced their fraud dept to india and when I called them was unable to even pass the security checks as they couldn't understand my south manchester accent. They responded to that by blocking my credit card as well as my debit card, leaving me with no access to funds at all.

      Currently at First Direct who have only blocked me once and it was a quite quick experience to get reinstated.. under 5 minutes (I know they're really HSBC but different CS staff who seem to actually give a shit).

  9. I've had:

    a payment for £39 refused because the retailer (CPW) do a 1p debit and put it back to check the card and that activity triggered the refusal (didn't block the card though). Why they couldn't just attempt the actual transaction I don't know.

    card blocked because Apple tried to take the money for an iPad at 02:20. I actually knew from Apple first and rang the issuer. Fortunately the card issuer unblocked it pretty quick and the Apple rep in Ireland was very helpful in sorting it out.

  10. My favourite was when a card issuer called me about a suspected fraudulent transaction, and started to explain what a computer was, what a laptop was, and what Internet shopping was (starting with how you get on the Internet).

    After a bit of prodding, it turned out that their fraud systems had decided that I was non-technical and would not know about computers or the existence of the Internet (despite using Internet banking), and I'd just used the card to pay for an expensive Dell laptop - which promptly triggered the fraud team into action to confirm that I really had ordered that laptop, and that my card hadn't been stolen, using the "you don't have a clue about this stuff" script...

  11. Try using HSBC instead. I have an HSBC business card (Visa) and I paid our own RIPE NCC fees a few weeks ago too and that did not trigger HSBC's fraud department!

  12. Have had the same paying RIPE NCC membership with Co-Operative Bank. Only happened once. Must've been whitelisted since then.

  13. The banks commission rates on blocked card callers must be sensational!. I have since discovered that my bank has a Freephone service that will link me directly to the fraud team elite - much to my advantage, and hopefully bypass the man from Ghana who can't understand a single word of post-primary English I was greeted to last time I called.


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