No credit

Tomorrow, I’ll start using my fifth credit card in the past 12 months. I suspect Apple Pay itself won’t be the solution, but a universally available system like it has to be in the offing. I’m not the only one who’s fed up with continually changing the credit card number on file with the companies I do business with. For me, this includes not only online accounts with Amazon, Apple, Hertz, Marriott, Southwest, etc., but also local businesses with which my family has subscriptions, rental agreements, and memberships.

Thursday night I got a fraud notice via text and email. When I called the bank, I found several charges from an online video game company that my older son uses. He’d made a single purchase, which went through, and then fifteen minutes later four or five charges from that same vendor were attempted and blocked. Was this a programming error at the game company? fraud by the company? fraud by some third party masquerading as the game company? Don’t know. I do know it wasn’t because my son was buying things by mistake—he’s eighteen and has enough experience online to know better. The bank cancelled the credit card and we canceled his game account. Happy New Year.

As I said, this will be our fifth card in the past twelve months. We started 2014 with a card we’d had for a couple of years, but it was replaced in early February after the Target breach. Sometime in spring, the bank caught a fraudulent charge at a Kmart in Chicago, so our 3–4 month old card was cancelled and a new one issued. That one lasted all the way to October, when it was cancelled because of the Home Depot breach. And now this.

When the new card arrives on Monday, I’ll go through the list of accounts and change them all to the new number. My list is on paper, but this time I’m going to switch to a system like Jamie Phelps’s, that’ll allow me to just click a single link instead of dig my way through a series of pages for each account.

Of course, the story doesn’t quite end there. I got an email this morning from the host of my company’s web site. The yearly hosting charge came due today, and the charge was denied. We don’t get a lot of business through our web site, but it really shouldn’t go down, so I had to make other arrangements for payment.

As I said after the September keynote, I like everything about Apple Pay and hope it’ll reduce the credit card fraud problem, but despite the cooperation of many banks I find it hard to believe Apple Pay will become ubiquitous. Apple users make up only a fraction of credit card users, and the banks will be forced to come up with their own solution. When that happens, if it’s done right, support for Apple Pay will fade.

Whatever the new system is, it can’t come soon enough for me.