The new Mastercard inControl Family Solutions offers several conveniences, but I suspect it will be the instant alerts that will be immediately popular with card users.
With inControl, Vincent Patru, MasterCard Worldwide vice president for emerging payments, says you get an e-mail or SMS (text) alert in real time when your card is used, even if you are the one using it. You may not be able to stop a fraudulent transaction but at least you can immediately inform your card issuer that it is unauthorized.
I cannot count the number of times people have told me stories of bill shocks because of the unauthorized use of their cards that were either cloned or stolen. They only find out their cards have been compromised when they get their monthly bills and see they are charged for purchases they did not make.
Several people reported having their cards cloned when they used them in some restaurants. This happens because, in eating places, you usually just hand your card to the waiter or waitress and do not actually witness the payment transaction.
In most places, the risk is theft. A family that went on a foreign trip did not realize one of their cards was stolen until they got their bill. The husband was paying for their expenses with his credit card so the other members of the family had no reason to use theirs. The son, who had a supplementary card, put it in his mother’s purse without telling her. She did not realize they had lost his card until they got their bill.
One woman used her card to pay for purchases in a large department store. She went home feeling confident her card was safe in her purse. Before the day was over, the thief who stole her card immediately after she used it had bought high-ticket items like appliances and mobile phones, and had practically maxed it out.
Of course, if this happens, you can always challenge the charges and ask to have them reversed. But the process is neither easy nor quick, especially if you fail to inform the issuing bank immediately and you have not been able to file a police report because you did not know about the loss.
With inControl, you get alerted immediately when your card is being used. The new MasterCard product also allows you to set limits on how much you, as well as supplementary cardholders, will spend on anything so you can control the urge to buy another pair of shoes or new mobile phone you do not really need. If you hit the limit you set for yourself, the transaction will be declined and you will be alerted.
To ensure that your kids, if they are supplementary cardholders, do not buy things they should not or spend money in places they are not supposed to visit, you may specify where and how they should use their cards and how much they can charge. Any attempts to use the card outside of the terms you set will be blocked and you will be alerted.
As Poch Villareal, MasterCard Philippines country manager, points out, this is much better than the current setup where the only realistic thing you, as principal cardholder, can do to regulate the spending of supplementary cardholders is to set caps on amounts they can charge to their cards.
The terms of your card usage can be easily changed through the issuing bank’s portal. In the Philippines, MasterCard inControl Family Solutions is, so far, only available at Allied Bank and Philippine National Bank.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.