Receiving a new credit card in the mail can feel like a major win. You researched cards, chose one that fits your needs, and got approved—and your new card confirms your financial clout. But what if you never asked to open that credit card that just showed up in the mail?
Reddit user suicidal_whs shared their experience with the r/personalfinance subreddit recently, explaining that they visited a motorcycle dealer in the fall when they were considering buying a new bike. The salesperson mentioned the brand’s credit card program, but the prospective buyer said they didn’t want a credit card unless they decided to buy the bike. They filled out a card application assuming it would be used to check their credit, and the salesperson reassured them they wouldn’t issue the credit card unless the purchase went through. (It did not.)
Surprise! The motorcycle shopper ended up getting a charge card in the mail a few months later. They canceled the card, but wondered if that was enough to protect their credit. I asked Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards, what you should do if a card gets opened with your name, but without your permission.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re looking at an online or physical credit card application, never assume it will be used only to check your credit and eligibility for interest rates. “Never ever fill out an application for a credit card if you don’t actually want the card,” Schulz said. “That goes for most any other financial product as well.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises you never write down your Social Security Number or enter it on a keypad unless you’re sure you want the credit card.
There’s only one exception to this that we’re aware of: Apple Card allows you to review your card terms before choosing whether you want to open the account.
Report the fraud
If you fended off the salesperson’s pressure to apply for a credit card but still wind up with one, it’s fraud, plain and simple.
Your first step should be to call the card issuer, Schulz said, to tell them the account was opened without your consent. After that, he recommends filing an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission and filing a police report. “These two things can help serve as proof that you were victimized,” he said.
You might also consider filing complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Better Business Bureau to warn others and draw attention to the practice. The CFPB, for one, has more than 1,800 complaints in its database from consumers who were issued an unsolicited credit card.
If you really feel like putting the company on blast, you could leave negative reviews online.
Protect your credit
Your next step is to lock down your credit so the situation can’t happen again—and the person who ordered your card can’t open any more accounts in your name…Read more>>