By: Sharon Udasin; jpost.com
You can’t select Israel, but you can select “State of Palestine, Occupied.”
J.P. Morgan Chase allows debit-card users to select “Palestine” as a destination they will be visiting, so their cards will continue to work without a glitch, but does not allow the same for Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The New York-based bank, the US’s largest and the third largest in the world by assets, said this is due to a perceived high incidence of fraud activity in Israel.
A banker for J.P. Morgan Chase told the Post that he was surprised this week when he tried adding Israel and Egypt to the international travel notification system for a debit card of a customer planning a trip to both countries.
After successfully adding Egypt, the banker – who asked to remain anonymous – said he tried to select Israel as well, but was barred from doing so due to the country’s status in the bank as a “highrisk country.”
Finding this odd, the banker said he looked up “Palestine” in the system, found “State of Palestine, Occupied,” and was offered the option of setting a notification for the territory.
After calling his back office team, the banker said he was ultimately able to “place a note” on the customer’s debit card that she would be traveling to Israel, but was told to advise her to perform all of her transactions as debits from her account, rather than use the credit function.
In response to the banker’s report, Trish Wexler, chief communications officer for J.P. Morgan Chase, told the Post on Wednesday that the bank had decided not to open the cards for travel alerts in Israel, due to heightened fraud activity in the country.
When a banker selects a travel alert on a card for a customer heading to another country, this makes the company less likely to decline a transaction that might otherwise be flagged for fraud, Wexler explained.
Although assigning such travel alerts for Israel is currently impossible, she said that customers can still use their cards in Israel and that not every transaction will be blocked.
As far as the listing “State of Palestine, Occupied” is concerned, Wexler said she was unable to confirm that the Palestinian Authority was given this name in the company’s system. She did confirm, however, that the travel alerts for both the PA and Egypt can be added to customer cards.
J.P. Morgan Chase employs a number of algorithms that look for markers that detect fraud, and the company is not currently comfortable with removing these markers when customers travel to Israel, according to Wexler.
She stressed that this is by no means a judgment call or a broad J.P. Morgan Chase policy, as fraud detection is data-driven and dynamic.
“This is based on actual transaction data that we have observed,” Wexler said. “We want to do what’s right to keep our customers’ accounts safe. Will this change in the future? It’s possible. But this is what our program is detecting right now.”