Discover Offers New Freeze It Option for Misplaced Cards

April 22, 2015
Discover Freeze It

Floridian Emily Sacharow was visiting Seattle when suddenly she couldn't find her credit card. "I thought I left it in the airport in Seattle and I panicked especially because I was traveling, so I went to the nearest Bank of America. They cancelled the card right away and issued me a temporary one and told me my new card would arrive at my house in a few weeks," said Sacharow.

A few days later, Sacharow found her original card buried in the depths of her bag, stuck behind a business card. Unfortunately, it was too late to get her old credit card back, which meant that not only did Sacharow have to spend time moving all of the accounts tied to the electronic billing feature of her Hello Kitty Visa, she also was stuck with a new plain card, as the Hello Kitty Visa program had ended.

"The part of it that actually made my life kind of difficult was that I had the same card number for about four years or so. I had it memorized, which got me out of situations where I was stranded without my wallet on more than one occasion," said Sacharow, noting that if you report your card as lost, the issuing bank doesn't let you keep the same card number.

However, those days may be over for Discover cardholders. This month, Discover launched a new feature called "Freeze It" that allows a cardholder to stop new purchases if they've misplaced their card. Once they've found it, they can turn the card back on and resume using it as normal.

"We learned through research that the experience of temporarily misplacing a card (restaurant, desk, car, purse) was a relatable situation for many consumers," said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and acquisition at Discover, via e-mail. "Freeze It is a simple and easy way to take control over a misplaced card."

The Freeze It feature might have been helpful to Elizabeth Tucker last year when she had a similar situation with a Citi Visa. "My husband had just dropped me off for a race when he couldn't find his wallet. He thought he had surely been pickpocketed, so we filed a report and I left the race to go home and help him with sorting through what was missing."

Although Tucker told Citi that the card might have been at home--they had called in the missing card immediately in case it had been stolen and was being used--the bank's policy was to cancel the card if it wasn't in their possession.

Somewhat luckily, Tucker did find the card. "I found the wallet with the card within 20 minutes of calling to inform them that it might be missing. I was relieved we had the card but completely miffed that I now had to go sifting through what needed to be replaced or switched," she said.

When a cardholder activates the Freeze It feature on their card, that tells Discover not to authorize any new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers. It does, however, continue recurring electronic payments that are tied to cards, such as monthly utility bills or subscriptions, returns or reward redemptions.

Cardholders can turn their cards off and on with a mobile device, online or by calling Discover's customer service line. Discover will continue to monitor their account and will send alerts to cardholders if a transaction is declined when the card is in frozen mode. If the cardholder eventually finds that the card is permanently missing, they can cancel the card outright, and Discover will issue them a new one.

"Security is a top priority at Discover and for our cardmembers," said Loeger. "Freeze It is an expansion of our security platform, and when our cardmembers have peace of mind about their accounts, we also have peace of mind."

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