Pre Approved Credit Card Offers
Unsolicited pre approved credit card offers can be an identity theft risk. Theft from mailboxes is not uncommon,
and promotion invitations to take out a pre-approved credit card in your name are an obvious opportunity for
identity thieves. If they intercept such an application, complete it and send it back in your name, the application
is quite likely to be accepted. From then on there is somebody operating a credit card in your name - totally
without your knowledge, until trouble develops.
One further risk is that the identity thieves will order a redirection or change of address of your mail,
perhaps through your local postal agency or directly with the credit card company concerned, in order to keep
control of subsequent communication, including the delivery of the new credit cards. Any evidence of such activity
should be taken as a warning sign that identity thieves may be interested or active in stealing your identity in
some way. If your mail volume suddenly drops off, for example, you can ask at your local postal center whether a
redirection order has been placed in your name without your knowledge.
Usually these credit card companies send repeated offers. Stop them when you get the first offer, or, if they do
not comply, there may be a direct marketing ethics body or a consumer agency in your community that can help you to
get you off their mailing list.
Your liability is, of course, limited if it was not you who sent back the application. But that does not mean
you are free of the consequential hassles. You may become a "suspect", especially if your signature was forged, and
be faced with having to argue against the credit card company. Meanwhile your good credit record may have been
damaged, and it may take you some time, expense and effort to sort out the problems with the banks, merchants and
others who may have lost money when dealing with someone who presented himself as if he were you. You may find it
necessary to engage an identity theft lawyer to help sort out the issues.
Fortunately, the credit card issuers now better understood these risks. This kind of pre-approved offer may be
coming less common, but it is a powerful marketing tool that these companies will not readily abandon completely.
In view of some controversy about how easy it is to have these applications accepted, most credit card companies
have taken steps to set up more secure procedures to reduce the identity theft risks.
Locking your mailbox, or using a mail center post box, greatly reduces your risk of having your mail intercepted
If you move house, you can have your mail redirected to your new address so it does not end up being left
uncollected at your old address.
If you toss out pre-approved credit card applications in your mail, make sure they are well shredded.