Credit card users could help alert each other to scams and hidden fees with help from a new online service that debuted at a technology industry conference in May. TechCrunch reported May 23 that developers from tech startup BillGuard unveiled their new service at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City. The platform reviews customers' credit card transaction histories, then uses three methodologies to alert users of potential overcharges:
- Crowdsourced credit card scam alerts. BillGuard users can help each other by flagging transactions, such as fraudulent charges or unexpected fees. As the network of customers grows, notifications become faster and more reliable.
- Monitored reporting services. Many consumers look at Better Business Bureau reports or scam-busting websites before making purchases. BillGuard team members scan consumer protection databases for reports that resemble transactions on customers' statements. Alerts prompt members to reconsider their satisfaction with a particular product or service.
- Historic analysis. BillGuard's programmers have developed algorithms that can detect changes to a credit card user's purchasing patterns over time. In the same way that many credit card issuers' fraud detection teams can spot potential problems, BillGuard can use its database to predict likely chargebacks or disputes.
Upon signing up for BillGuard, a new user registers a credit card using their bank's online statement credentials. The free consumer service bills itself as "antivirus for our bills," boasting bank-level security and encryption to prevent identity theft. BillGuard's database stores 90 days of transaction history, while separating personally identifiable information from alerts and company profiles in its archives.
Audience members at TechCrunch Disrupt compared BillGuard to similar, paid services offered as part of credit monitoring services. According to a TechCrunch report, BillGuard executives have already entered into discussions with major credit card issuers to either promote the public service or to integrate a private label version of BillGuard into existing fraud prevention services.