Sunday, September 09, 2012

Thanks, Amex. But, Gee, no thanks. I think...

I recently had to change my American Express number. And then I had to cogitate and knock my head around to try to remember all the companies that needed my number, to could charge periodically. I missed at least one, and I was embarrassed when they called me.

A week later, I got an email from American Express. In it, they listed all the companies I had bought anything from with any regularity. Might I need to contact some of these, they asked, to update my Amex number?

They cast a wide net. I made only three purchases in the last eight years from one of the companies they suggested. Their "reminder" email is certainly a good idea, and I'm sure it helps many people.


There's a security issue here. Email is not particularly secure. I think it's possible that someone might be able to get access to the email that Amex sent me. But the purchases I made at the companies they listed were all very secure. Only those companies, Amex, and I, know where I made these repetitive purchases.

If someone gets a look at my buying history, I don't think it will cause a problem. I'm more than ready to admit, for example, that I buy the World's Softest Socks. But some people reasonably need to keep their purchase history secret, and Amex's helpful email, in my opinion, adds a tiny risk to lifting that secrecy. I don't think Amex should send emails like this, unless we ask for them. I would be happier if they had just sent me an email offering to send me this list of purchases. What do you think?

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