Thanks to Citibank, I had to make four separate phone calls this week to insist that four routine charges on two of my credit cards were not "unusual activity." The charges were in the $20 range, and the merchants involved were major online companies. For each purchase, Citibank left two messages on my cell phone, three minutes apart. Of course, you can't hit "reply" — you have to key in a completely separate number, your ZIP code, and a special access code (that you had to write down from their message).
For the first incident, I called the number on the card itself and wended my way through the system to a live person. Why, I asked, was a renewal of my Classmates.com membership ($20) considered suspicious? The answer: "It's a very large company and criminals are likely to make purchases from large companies."
So the criminal sets up a Classmates.com account with their purloined credit card number. Wouldn't that, er, be kind of traceable? Never mind.
At this rate, it's soon going to be faster just to drive to the mall and wander around buying things the old-fashioned way. Or perhaps I should pay for all online purchases via PayPal — as far as I know, those payments don't have to be defended.