|The transaction was eventually resolved in my favour and a full refund received.|
I’m on the record as being a big fan of Instarem’s Amaze Card, with its magical ability to convert offline transactions into online ones (read: 4 mpd everywhere), zero FCY transaction fees and 1% cashback.
Disputing a fraudulent transaction though? Completely different story.
Given how heavily I’ve been using my Amaze Card, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got hit by a fraudulent charge. These are usually minor annoyances- so long as you report the fraud promptly and don’t act with “gross negligence” (e.g. leaving your card lying around or entering your OTP on a dodgy website), you’re fine. The ABS caps your maximum liability for unauthorised charges at S$100, and most of the times the card issuer waives this anyway.
But you’ll still need to navigate an administrative process to raise a dispute, reverse the transaction, block the old card, and receive a new card. With banks, all this is handled through one phone call. With Amaze, it’s significantly slower, and much more complicated.
|❓ Who you gonna call?|
|As a general pointer: if you see a fraudulent transaction on your Amaze Card, you should raise it with Instarem, not your bank.|
My Amazing fraud transaction
On 11 December, I awoke to an Instarem confirmation email for a UAH 2,634.08 (S$134.05) transaction at iHerb. Now, I’m pretty sure I’m not buying anti-baldness treatments from Kiev, so you can imagine I leapt out of bed rather quickly.
What’s interesting is that just prior to this transaction, I received two emails about attempted iHerb transactions which were rejected due to the wrong CVV. This makes me wonder- if the first two failed, how did the third go through? Did they simply guess the right CVV, and why wasn’t there an OTP challenge?
In any case, I reached out immediately to Instarem customer service. They don’t have a call centre, so I opened a support ticket via email at 5.02 a.m and got a reply at 9.15 a.m asking me to fill out a dispute form.
I sent the form back at 10.44 a.m, only to be told at 2.40 p.m that I was supposed to send it to [email protected]. This was done at 4.34 p.m, after which I heard absolutely nothing- no automated response, no acknowledgement of receipt.
It was only after I chased up the matter two days later on 13 December that I received the following email from the disputes department.
Please be informed that the disputed transaction is yet to be settled by the merchant. Waiting for merchant settlement.
As per Mastercard rule, card should be permanently blocked or replace new card for unauthorized/ unrecognized transaction dispute to avoid further unauthorized transaction in card .
Please reach out customer service for replacement card.
Leaving aside the glacial pace of their response (two days is an eternity when you’re dealing with fraud) and the fact I had to email them twice before getting a reply, what’s concerning is this was the first time during the process that Instarem told me to block the card.
Now, blocking the card via the Instarem app was obviously the first thing I did on 11 December, and you could argue that it’s just common sense- but that’s because you and I are already familiar with the procedure for things like this.
Imagine a noob user who’s relying on the card issuer to tell them exactly what to do, or who believes that the card issuer will handle the blocking automatically once they report the fraudulent transaction (which isn’t unreasonable, as that’s the SOP for banks), or who isn’t aware they’re able to block the card themselves via the app.
A lot of things could have gone wrong in the time it took for the disputes team to reply (or rather, to be chased to reply), and the communication from Instarem sort of assumes you know how to go about blocking your card. That’s fine with me, but it won’t be for some people.
In fact, the fraudsters attempted to make a few more transactions on my card during this period, which only failed because I’d proactively blocked it.
That aside, it was somewhat frustrating to be bounced back and forth while trying to arrange a card replacement (the disputes team told me to ask customer service, customer service told me to do it via the app), but a relatively minor concern compared to the fact there’s no temporary credit issued.
Based on my experience disputing fraudulent claims on credit cards, the SOP for banks is to issue a temporary credit for the fraudulent transaction so you don’t have to bear the “carrying costs” while the matter is investigated. That’s not the case for Amaze, however. Fortunately, we’re not talking about a big amount in my case, but what if it were larger?
The last communication I received from Instarem was on 16 December, when the disputes team informed me that a dispute had been raised with the merchant through Mastercard, and I’d hear back within 45 days. But we’ve crossed the 45-day mark today and I’m still out of pocket, with radio silence from the Instarem side.
What should Instarem be doing?
As you can tell, I’m far from impressed by Instarem’s fraud handling process.
When I see a fraudulent transaction on my credit card, I call the bank, they block the card, issue a temporary credit, and arrange for a new card to be mailed out- all on one phone call.
With Instarem, I was bounced between departments, didn’t get a reply until I chased them, didn’t receive clear instructions for card blocking and replacement (not that I needed them, but they should have idiot-proof templates prepared for scenarios like this), didn’t get a temporary credit, and am still waiting for a resolution 45 days later.
So if you ask me, Instarem should:
- Have the entire fraud reporting process handled by a single team- flagging, filing a dispute, getting a replacement card
- Automatically lock the card once a cardholder reports a fraudulent transaction, or at the very least reply quickly with detailed instructions on how to do so
- Issue a temporary credit while the case is investigated
- Proactively communicate with the cardholder at the end of the 45-day period if more time is required
I just felt a general lack of urgency from the Instarem side in dealing with this, and in fact, Amazes’s FAQs don’t say anything about how to dispute a transaction. The disputes form and email address are only obtainable through customer service, and if customer service isn’t the team that processes the form, you’re just adding an unnecessary layer of administration.
Amaze is a great card to have- when everything goes smoothly. But as much as I appreciate the miles and cashback with zero FCY transaction fees, their procedure for handling fraudulent transactions leaves a lot to be desired.
One would hope that after the recent OCBC fiasco, card issuers would be stepping up their processes to provide prompt assistance to customers hit by unauthorised transactions. Instarem has a long way to go here, and it makes the Amaze somewhat less Amazing.
Anyone else dealt with fraudulent transactions on their Amaze before?