American Express ending text notifications
In a notice to customers, American Express is warning them that text-based account alerts will be disabled by September 27, 2023.
Our account alerts program is changing. Beginning September 27, 2023, optional alerts will no longer be sent via text. You can still receive alerts via email. Review your account alert settings now to update your preferences.
SMS vs. Push Notifications
The alert, shown below as it appeared to me this morning, is an odd one. It isn’t clear why American Express is doing this.
The alerts affected by this change are some common and useful fraud detections, including irregular account activity, card not present, foreign transactions, and large purchases over a pre-determined amount.
All of these options are available via email, but most people (including myself) opt for SMS because it is often quicker than email, and doesn’t require a reliance on data services or an application. On the road, I’ve found that even when my applications are having issues, text messages and calling still worked.
Let me be clear. I enable email and text messaging for my credit cards, and have honestly caught and stopped fraud because of alerts like these. Once, because of an email alert, and twice because of SMS alerts. None of those cases involved my American Express card, as I only use it for work, but there is clear value in having both as an option.
American Express does reference push notifications, which is when an application will display messaging on the mobile device in the form of a pop-up alert. Yet, for those who don’t keep financial applications on their device, this alternative isn’t an attractive one.
One could argue this move is a security measure, because criminals are sending tons of SMS messages warning about purchases, account problems, etc. However, they do this via email too, and an application isn’t going to stop them or protect users.
The paranoid cynic in me wants to say this move is just so I will be forced to install the American Express application, which gives them more information about me than they normally get. But that isn’t true. The company has plenty of passive data on me based on my travel history and purchases.
I can’t see this being just about security either.
If it were authentication-based, where a multifactor push confirmation was being sent via the application and not a code via SMS, I’d be all for this move. But moving alerts to email only, unless you have an application installed, seems like more of a cost cutting measure.
Unfortunately, the American Express website is still encouraging enabling text alerts, without any mention that such an option is going away.
If you’re an American Express customer, there is little you can do. They will be disabling text alerts, and that is all there is to it.
If you install the American Express application, you can get push alerts for the fraud detections, otherwise you’ll have to go with email and hope for the best.
One thing you should do, is watch your statements and charges, and report anything that is suspicious or concerning. If you need the link to report suspicious or fraudulent transactions on your American Express account, you can visit them directly at: