Certegy Check Authorization Services — check authorization denied for no reason
I had my check denied at two big box stores this week. First at Circuit City and then at Best Buy. This has never happened to me before. My husband and I have excellent credit with no history of overdrafts for over three decades. There was plenty of money in the checking account. At Circuit City, I was so 'rattled' and insulted, I walked out. But at Best Buy I went ahead and paid with my credit card.
I checked my accounts online to make sure I saw no unusual activity, then went to the bank (Bank of America) to discuss it with them. They confirmed that there was no reason for the denial and wanted me to open a Visa with them. The bank person excitedly told me that I was preapproved for a $12000 limit. I declined.
I then went home and called Certegy. When I finally got connected to someone, they said that there was no negative activity in my file and that they couldn't give me a solid reason for the check being denied but that it likely had to do with the computer algorithm they use and that somehow my check fit some sort of profile. BUT, if I would like to fill out a 'Gold Application' and give them a lot of personal information, they would be happy to give me a 'pre-approval' status so that I won't have this difficulty in the future.
This is some sort of scam - I sent a complaint to the FTC but I got a polite note back with no action on their part. I also sent a complaint to the State of CT Consumer Affairs - don't know if that will go anywhere. In the meantime, I'm seeing all these complaints on the web and the list of stores using this Certegy company is extensive.
I thought about going with a debit card but I'm not sure that I won't eventually run into the same problem because Certegy also does debit card authorization. From my reading about this, I've found that Certegy is gathering information about our buying habits - what we are buying, where we buy, when we buy, everything. They can get that from the debit swipe also.
It also occurred to me that many of these large retailers offer their own credit cards - so if your check is denied by Certegy, you might be tempted to open a credit card with the merchant.
I don't know how to get around this other than buying everything with cash but I think that's unrealistic in today's world.