An interesting thought occurred to me two weeks ago while at the Groom & Kennel Expo in Pasadena. I was standing in the Ryan’s booth watching as lines of customers stretched around both sides of our booth. I began to notice several customers frantically pulling out their mobile phones, but these customers weren’t just killing time while waiting in line, they were doing this at the cash registers. I walked over and inquired with our staff to see if everything was all right. This is when my eyes were opened to just how far credit card security has come in the past few years.
With our best interests in mind, banks and credit card companies now take reactive measures against identity theft and fraud. They monitor your activity to see if anything starts to take on an unusual pattern compared to your usual spending habits. If there is activity on your credit card in several states other than the one your statement is mailed to in a short amount of time, they will often freeze your account as this behavior suggests that someone other than you is using your card and perhaps committing fraud.
Back at the trade show, the downside of such advanced security quickly became a reality for me as I spoke with my staff and our customers in the checkout lines. This is because trade shows attract multiple vendors and exhibitors from around the country (and even the world). Each of these vendors, eager to sell their products to trade show attendees, brings their own credit card processing system to the show with them. The result is that as an attendee at one of these shows, you may visit several different booths throughout the day swiping your card and making purchases as you go.
One vendor might be from Wichita Kansas, the next from Phoenix, Arizona, or San Jose, California and so on. Well…what you may not realize as you innocently travel up and down the aisles is that your bank or credit card company starts seeing activity that doesn’t fit your usual purchasing patterns. To them it appears as though your card is crisscrossing the country from one state to the next! Soon they’ve frozen your account and you’re unable to make purchases without calling them to unlock your account. As it turns out this is precisely what was happening in our booth and others.
This got me thinking that this is something that could happen at any trade show regardless of the industry. However, the way to avoid this is simple: call your bank or credit card company ahead of time and alert them to the fact that you will be attending a trade show and plan to make some purchases while you’re there. While you’ve got them on the phone, you may also want to check your daily spending limits just in case you plan on making a large purchase. Banks can often increase your daily spending limit for a short period of time when you give them advanced notice.
I hope this helps you save time, avoid embarrassment and meet your purchasing goals at the next trade show you attend.
Vice President, Ryan’s Pet Supplies