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Torn-up Credit Card Apps Not So Safe 470

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the big-shocker-here dept.
Maximum Prophet writes "This dude tears up a credit card application, tapes it back together, sends it in with his cell phone number and father's address, and voila, gets a credit card. Who would have thought security at a credit card company was so lax? The company recommends that consumers "tear up" financial solicitations before throwing them away, "so thieves can't use them to assume your identity.", but according to them, "Applications that arrive in damaged form are customarily transferred to an electronic format, he said -- often by machine. So it's possible a human being never handled the taped-up application and never had the chance to spot the obvious sign of trouble." In this era where we worry so much about identity theft, this sort of thing really makes you wonder what the point really is.
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Torn-up Credit Card Apps Not So Safe

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  • shred shred shred (Score:4, Informative)

    by Luyseyal (3154) <[swaters] [at] [luy.info]> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:30PM (#14927056) Homepage
    I always shred this kind of thing.
    -l
    • Re:shred shred shred (Score:3, Informative)

      by TimeTrav (460837)
      That may be, but theres nothing stopping a would-be identity thief from raiding your mailbox in the morning before you can get to it. I really loathe these pre-approved credit card ads that come with large bright "0% for six months!!!" print on the outer envelope.

      The reason these are considered "safe" is that most all credit card applications require a social security number. So, that means the identity thief has to steal a piece of mail from your health insurance company, which is a pretty reliable way of
      • Re:shred shred shred (Score:5, Informative)

        by Skater (41976) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:40PM (#14927161) Homepage Journal
        In the US, you can now use a phone number (it's something like 1-888-3OptOut) to opt out of the prescreened credit card offers. I did so several weeks back and the offers have slowed to a trickle.

        I do kind of miss shredding the fake AmEx cards that came with their offers, though.
        • Re:shred shred shred (Score:5, Informative)

          by johnkoer (163434) <johnkoerNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:02PM (#14927404) Homepage Journal
          The FTC has an alert [ftc.gov] that gives you a few options, including the phone # to call for opting out.

      • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:41PM (#14927172) Homepage Journal
        >I really loathe these pre-approved credit card ads that come with large bright "0% for six months!!!" print on the outer envelope.

        Amen. The reason I opted out of receiving those was exactly the one you mentioned, that they're a security problem.

        The number to stop them at least used to be 888-5OPTOUT.
        • Actually, the phone number is 212-555-7382. Don't be put off when someone answers with "Hello?" Just ask for Dave, and he'll take your information.

          Just saying.. don't take anyone's word for a phone number, especially on an internet forum. Look it up yourself, using www.google.com.a8tisdu4.net or www.yahoo.com@afd9s8yh9ye498hf9s8h4f98j209j4f0jh86 58h42h.hahaigotyou.net.
      • by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:47PM (#14927256) Homepage Journal
        I solved this problem by having credit that is so bad, people literally laugh at me when I apply for a card. The weird part is I still get these offers in the mail; I still think it is a ploy by the credit card companies to give their employees a good laugh now and then.
      • Re:shred shred shred (Score:4, Informative)

        by cr0sh (43134) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @05:16PM (#14928171) Homepage
        The reason these are considered "safe" is that most all credit card applications require a social security number. So, that means the identity thief has to steal a piece of mail from your health insurance company, which is a pretty reliable way of obtaining a social security number, since most insurance companies use it as a unique subscriber identifier. Theres no way to win.

        Actually, if you sign up for insurance, for most applications you can write the words "please assign" in the space for the SSN, and the company will assign a number for your policy. I should note that some brokers will get smart with you, and try to "guilt you" into providing your real social "in the event you are incapacitated" and "so your loved ones can help". Don't let them guilt you (if I am incapacitated or dead - I don't care anymore, now do I?). Also, don't put in a "fake SSN", as these get caught fairly easily (and you'll get a phone call or letter) - or if they aren't, then it might be YOU who are guilty of "identity theft", if it is found out it matches someone else's real number in the system...

    • Re:shred shred shred (Score:4, Informative)

      by sacherjj (7595) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:42PM (#14927184) Homepage
      Yep, cross cut shread everything that I throw away that even might have encriminating data. If you are more paranoid, you can keep a burn bag of the shreaded stuff.
      • Re:shred shred shred (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jdray (645332)
        After burning up a couple of COTS shredders (don't believe the outside of the boxes when they describe how much they can cut at once), my wife and I have resorted to burning junk mail in the fireplace. We toss in a couple of logs, sit back with cups of tea, and enjoy the warmth provided by a couple months' collection of junk mail.
    • wimp (Score:4, Funny)

      by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:49PM (#14927265)
      I shred it, then I set it on fire. I then take the ashes and compress them into a diamond-like form. Then I smash it apart, and put the crystal shards inside the event horizon of a black hole, beyond which no information about the black hole's interior can escape to the outer universe. [uiuc.edu]

      its the only way to be completely sure.
  • whose fault (Score:3, Insightful)

    by opencity (582224) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:30PM (#14927057) Homepage
    'Shouldn't' this be the companies problem? MCI decided years ago I owe them money, I don't, and every two years some collection agency comes calling.
    • Re:whose fault (Score:4, Informative)

      by Skim123 (3322) <mitchell AT 4guysfromrolla DOT com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:05PM (#14927423) Homepage
      Can MCI provide you with a copy of a document you signed regarding the charges? If not (and if I'm not mistaken), what they're doing is illegal. Next time you get a call, request this information and if they can't or won't provide it, tell them that if they call you again it's off to the FCC and your state's attorney general.
      • Re:whose fault (Score:4, Insightful)

        'Shouldn't' this be the companies problem?
        Can MCI provide you with a copy of a document you signed regarding the charges? If not (and if I'm not mistaken), what they're doing is illegal.
        Please forgive me for sounding condescending, but parent and grandparent posts are COMPLETELY missing the point. It doesn't matter if it's illegal, all that matters is the they (giant, godless corporations) have infinitely deep pockets and an army of lawyers, while you have enough trouble making the rent. They are COUNTING on this.

        As long as they're vastly more powerful than us, it is usually to their advantage to create problems for you that you may (or may not) pay to make go away. I finally paid a lawyer over $5,000 to correct MBNA's refusal to stop reporting credit fraud as mine. Once the 100 page brief was filed with the court and MBNA saw that there would be financial consequences, they finally backed off.

        There's a huge difference between what's illegal and what's prosecuted.
        • Re:whose fault (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)
          Thus far I've taken on three big companies (FedEx, Pepboys, and AT&T) over charges I didn't owe and was sent to collections for. I spent a total of maybe $10 on certified mail. I won in all cases, none had to hit the courts.

          The reason they get away with this is not because they are big and powerful and use lawyers to crush you, they do not want or need that kind of expense, not to mention bad publicity. The reason they get away with it is because people like you preach hopelessness and people don't figh
  • by metternich (888601) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:30PM (#14927067)
    I always try to put different pieces of my financial documents in different trash bins. I suspose burning them would be even more effective.
  • I need a shredder!!!
  • by defile (1059) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:31PM (#14927074) Homepage Journal

    "Applications that arrive in damaged form are customarily transferred to an electronic format, he said -- often by machine. So it's possible a human being never handled the taped-up application and never had the chance to spot the obvious sign of trouble."

    What, a machine opened the letter, recognized it was an application (and not, say, other junkmail that got stuffed into the nearest bulk reply envelope), fed it into a scanner, then trashed the hard copy? At no point in the process does a human see it? Sounds like bullshit.

    • by paeanblack (191171) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#14927291)
      If humans aren't involved in the letter opening process, it's time to have some real fun...see how well their machines handle foreign substances

      1) Save the return envelope.
      2) Fold up a blank piece of paper with a nice wad of chewing gum/peanut butter/diaper contents/etc
      3) Mail your "application"
      4) ???
      5) Profit
      • by Deagol (323173) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:27PM (#14927627) Homepage
        I send most junk mail solicitations back to the sender in their own return envelope. If they send those neat colorful stickers, I stick a few of those on the envelope's outside border for good measure. So you have an over-stuffed envelope with stickers to gum up the machines.

        My wife did a few months on graveyard shift at a First Security payment processing center (before Wells Fargo assimilated them). She said those machines are *really* cool, really fast, and jam up so easily that they have dedicated staff on-hand to fix particularly nasty jams.

        So if you want to put a (albeit small) dent in the productivity of the Evil Credit Card Sharks, send back those handy self addressed envelopes stuffed with their own junk mail. Be sure to fold, spindle, and mutilate the envelope, too. :)

      • You know, I've had other friends suggest the "smear some of substance X on the paper" idea. I'm no lawyer, but I think sending biohazardous material through the mail is probably a felony, and would likely be the target of a much larger investigation in a "Post 9/11 era" than I'd care to be a party in. While peanut butter may not count, its less tasty digested form probably would.
      • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @05:22PM (#14928237) Homepage
        Forgot to mention the solution I did end up using for a particularly determined bank which kept sending me high interest "pre-approved" credit card applications:

        I made my own checkbox next to the "YES! Sign me up." that said "No thanks," and checked it. Naturally, I put it in the business reply envelope, along with a dollar or two in pennies (to be used toward the processing fee of course), and sent it on its way.

        They never sent me another application.
    • by thparker (717240) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:51PM (#14927295) Homepage
      What, a machine opened the letter, recognized it was an application (and not, say, other junkmail that got stuffed into the nearest bulk reply envelope), fed it into a scanner, then trashed the hard copy? At no point in the process does a human see it? Sounds like bullshit.

      I'd guess yes, at no point in the process does a human see it.

      Here's one vendor -- OPEX [opex.com]. This one does opening and extraction [opex.com] but isn't particularly fast at 17,000/hr. They have a scanning solution as well -- significantly slower but the mail goes straight from envelope to scan.

      This is just what I've found in a quick search because I knew something like it existed; I'm not that familiar with the high-speed mail processing industry. I'd imagine that the technology would surprise most people.

      • You want high volume processing? Try First Data [firstdatacorp.com]. My Dad worked there for like 5 years overseeing hundreds of people who ran the machines that did this stuff 24 hours a day. For a while, I worked in one of the Quality Assurance departments for Credit Card bill printing and our team could (mostly) ensure the quality of over a million pieces every day. It's mainly an automated process, but there was always human verification at some point or another. But that doesn't mean that someone can't get sloppy! T
    • Yeah when I saw this on MSNBC the other day, I also called bullshit. Not only the opening, automatic feeding/scanner.. but the computer was able to OCR a taped up document? Doubtful.
  • About 10 years ago someone went dumpster diving and got one of my credit card apps. They had a merry old time at Service Merchandise, in my name, until they got shut down. It was a mighty pain for me. And some skank VISA company was out $1000. Wonder why your card rates are so high? Now I shred everything, and throw away the shreds away weekly with dog excrement picked up from around the yard. I am no longer concerned about mail-based credit card fraud.

    • And some skank VISA company was out $1000.

      My heart bleeds. No, really. That might represent five seconds' worth of profit.

      Wonder why your card rates are so high?

      No, not at all. They're that high because the credit card issuers have made sure to hype any fraud they can find, to make you think that they're losing all this money on fraud and need to jack up your rates to cover it.

      Your rates aren't high because of fraud. Your rates are high because of greed.

      • The rates are high because you can just not pay and there really isn't much they can do about it. Using Capital One as an example (in 2003 when they were about only a credit card company), they charged an average of about 13% on their credit card portfolio (a portion of the balances generates no interest income). Fraud losses were about 0.1%. Non-payments were 4.6%. It cost them 4.8% to borrow the money they loaned out. This left 3.8% (before taxes as the return on their portfolio to the greedy owners.
  • So it's possible a human being never handled the taped-up application and never had the chance to spot the obvious sign of trouble.

    Let me make sure I understand this. The form was recieved, removed from an envelope, scanned and filed or destroyed all without having ever been handled by a person? Am I the only one who finds this a bit far fetched?
    • yeah.

      I worked for the postal service for a summer and I can tell you they have machines that will do EVERYTHING.

      While they didn't open letters up, they could scan handwriting like a champ, only kicking back if its really poorly written or seriously damaged. Its not far fetched to think that these places would use machines that would scan a app scantron style to make sure the right checks are crossed out and scan in your signature as having been signed then file it.

      Look at how often these apps require

  • Solution! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiggles (30088) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:34PM (#14927100)
    Buy a shredder. I shred every credit card offer and transfer check my current credit card company sends me. It's ridiculous the crap they send me. One of these days, a thief is going to raid my mailbox before I get home and get a credit card in my name. Oh well. At least I get to play Enron Executive with my niece.
    • Re:Solution! (Score:2, Informative)

      by clamantis (708173)
      You can also Opt Out [kuro5hin.org] by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT.
    • Re:Solution! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:01PM (#14927389) Homepage
      One of these days, a thief is going to raid my mailbox before I get home and get a credit card in my name.

      Last summer I had a notice in my mailbox from the Postmaster that stated there were reports of mail theft in our neighborhood and that we should be watching closely for ID theft.

      My wife is concerned with throwing mail away and the thieves getting it there. Why would they bother to go through my trash and get dirty when they can get it fresh from my mailbox w/no one the wiser.
    • I go even further... We have a shredder, and I empty it once a week into the bag with the used cat litter. If someone wants to spend the effort to reassemble my finacial statements after digging through that mess, well, they've just about earned it.
    • A few years ago I decided that shredding took too much time. I wasn't looking forward to the yearly "shred the 11 year old financial documents" along with all the ongoing credit offers.

      So I came up with my $0.50 shredding system: 1 bucket, 2 cups of bleach, water.

      1. put papers flat in bucket
      2. pour bleach, let sit outside until bleach- and ink- is gone (a day or two)
      3. and/or add water, wait, stir until its pulp soup

      Takes a total of 5-10 minutes, and there's no recoverable information: much, much better than my ol

  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:34PM (#14927102) Homepage Journal
    Why do banks accept any application, even ones with errors?

    Banks want you to have credit -- of course they'll accept any application as long as the name and social security number match their lookups, and your FICO score is reasonably high (although banks are now lowering standards to give out even more credit).

    When a bank offers credit, it does so based on money it has (of course). Yet it is very important for the average person to understand where this "money" comes from -- especially digital money such as you'd have when you have an available credit line.

    All banks that are part of the central banking system (the Federal Reserve) are required by the Federal Reserve to stick something called a money multiplier. I believe the current money multiplier is 12% or so, but it varies. This basically means that a bank must keep a reserve of that amount versus the actual money is sends out. If a bank loans out $1000, it has to keep $120 in the bank. Even if it loans out the $880 ($120 in reserves) the bank can stil say it has $1000 in demand deposits available -- even though it doesn't.

    The collusion comes into place when the first bank is given $1000 by the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is allowed to print new money out of thin air by creating loans against government property and future government income. This initial $1000 is placed in Bank A as available cash. Bank A holds $120 but loans the remaining $880 to Bank B which is also part of the Federal Reserve banking system. Bank A still holds a demand deposit value of $1000 which is available to be withdrawn! Bank B also has $880, but has to reserve 12% of it ($105). It then loans the rest ($775) to Bank C, but still lists $880 as its available balance of demand deposits. Bank C reserves its 12% ($93) and loans the rest ($682) to Bank D, while still listing the original $775) as its available balance. This collusion continues to go around until there is no more reserve balance available. In the end, the original $1000 the Federal Reserve created is held as a base reserve for the $9000 or so "new money" that is created.

    Banks need people to accept this money in loans or in credit -- this is the way the bank actually makes money. Eventually all the loans are hopefully paid back into the system, so the bank makes a nice interest rate. On the new $1000 created, each bank wants to loan out as much as possible -- and these loans are used to buy goods, which recycles money back into the banks which can be kept as reserves to create even more money! If the bank takes $1000 and loans out $880 but receives $400 of that bank in, it can now loan out a portion of that $400 that it has in reserves.

    In the long run, the system wants debt out there because it is created out of fake inter-bank loans anyway. Most of you don't even see your physical money because it doesn't exist -- there are about $600 billion dollars in circulation worldwide, but there are over $10.2 trillion dollars on the books!

    And people have faith in the system.
    • by daknapp (156051) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:40PM (#14927160)
      they'll accept any application as long as the name and social security number match their lookups, and your FICO score is reasonably high

      There's a foolproof way to keep this kind of identity theft from happening to you: just make sure your FICO score is really, really low!

      That way, nobody will be able to get credit in your name. And, as a bonus, it's really easy to do!

    • You are going to give me nightmares with your scary stories...

      I'm glad my parents just had the "boogie man."
    • All banks that are part of the central banking system (the Federal Reserve) are required by the Federal Reserve to stick something called a money multiplier. I believe the current money multiplier is 12% or so, but it varies.

      Actually the multiplier is the reciprocal of the minimum reserve. So in the case where the reserve is 12%, the multiplier is 1/.12 = 8.333. Which means that if all banks keep that reserve, 1 million real dollars will multiply into $8,333,333. Cool huh? (Not.)

      I remembered the p

    • What you're describing is called the "money multiplier" and is a well-understood economic principle. It was created to keep track of the fact that money is spent repeatedly while it's in the system, but for brand-new goods and services each time. This happens with plain old cash as well as bank loans, since it gets spent over and over again before it's reclaimed and destroyed by the Federal Reserve.
  • by A Commentor (459578) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:35PM (#14927110) Homepage
    Where the problem??? Obviously, the credit company has some really advanced process that allowed them to determine that he actually sent it in (maybe they check the fingerprints on the tape, who knows)..

    If a real criminal would have attempted to tape it togather and send it in, the company would definitely not accept it...

    And for the humor impaired ;-)

  • Pimply faced kids (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:37PM (#14927132) Homepage
    Said it before, I'll say it again, I worry more about handing my card to the PFK at the corner gas station that about people going though my trash or grabbing my info off of the 'net.

    Most of the fruad that I've suffered has been at the hands of large corporations that reckon that my lawyer won't be willing to take on their lawyer.
  • by prozac79 (651102) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:37PM (#14927135)
    Isn't there a human in the processing chain somewhere? Doesn't someone have to physically open the envelop and scan the application? It seems like that is the logical place to check for potentially fraudulent applications. I don't believe that step is automated, but then again I've never worked at a place that needs to process thousands of letter a day. Or is it that the person getting paid minimum wage to open and scan letters could care less if someone is committing fraud?
  • ...that they want to prevent identity theft. I'm a young guy (22) and I recently paid off my credit card debt from college. This has resulted in an outpouring of credit card companies looking to add my name to a card of theirs. On a daily basis I probably get 3 credit card applications in the mail. And the whole time I'm wondering, how did I get on this list, how do I get off, and what the hell happens if someone fills one of these out for me. Relying on common sense, I usually tear them up or burn the
    • If you want to no longer receive any of those offers, it's quite simple...

      1-888-5-OPTOUT Follow the prompts (when I did it it was option 2, then 2 again). You have to provide some personally identifying info (specifically SSN).

      This will get you marked by the main credit bureaus as "Do not mail", so they will not include your name in the marketing lists they sell to credit providers. I worked in the credit card business for a couple of years, 90% or more of these offers come straight off these marketing l

  • figures, considering they bitch at us to beef up our secuirty with them, and look at them! they dont even bother looking at our applications. THEY ARE THE SECUIRTY THREAT. they all need a huge smack on the head...
  • by John Whitley (6067) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:41PM (#14927167) Homepage
    Once again, I like Bruce Schneier's proposed solution:
    The bank must be made responsible, regardless of what the user does.
    That quote is from Mitigating identity theft [com.com], which provides a refreshing perspective on the problems collectively labelled as identity theft. Bruce points out that many of the "solutions" to identity theft focus on authentication, which misses a critical part of the equation: the fradulent transaction itself. By providing a strong financial incentive to banks to mitigate fraud, the only party which has a real chance to do anything about the problem will fix it and fast.
  • These things [bicworld.com] work wonders on flammables. (Last I check, applications on paper were flammable.) There you have it! Nothing's left but ashes.

    What problem cannot be solved with fire?
  • by klossner (733867) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:42PM (#14927179)
    Better than a shredder, ask the banks to stop sending you the applications in the first place: http://www.optoutprescreen.com/ [optoutprescreen.com]. I used to receive several per month, now I get two per year.
  • I am alarmed by this article, but slightly comforted by the fact that he still needed his Social Security number to complete the app. Though I guess that can eventually be gotten by grabbing someone else's mail enough times.
  • There was a story on TV not too long ago about the Credit Card industry giving new cards to people who had just declared bankruptcy due to their massive Credit Card debt.
    They were the perfect target for these unscrupulous companies, and no one was ever turned down for these cards.
    After hearing this story, something like this does not surprise me.
    If Money is the root of all evil, Credit Cards are the fertilizer.
  • So, is this why my credit card has interest rates around 18%?
    • no,

      though as interesting bit. i signed up for a store's 0% financing over 4 years. what they don't tell you is the interest after that 3 years, if it's not fully paid up is 28.5% ! /not dumb enough to go beyond the 3 years
  • by mrpeebles (853978) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:44PM (#14927219)
    I don't know if these credit card companies are legally liable for this sort of identity theft, but they should be. If they are going to make money putting us all at risk for identity theft, they should pay for any damages we incure, including any inconvenience it causes us. Ditto for all these companies that collect data on us.
  • There is no excuse for how fundamentally destructive the lack of security is here. The federal government should make it a felony for the **company** to fail to properly verify that the person actually requested the credit card. But wait, that might make it harder for them to cut a cheap profit and for people to get 20 credit cards they'll never pay off, and that'd be bad for our economy-built-on-credit. So never mind, carry on as usual.
  • ...my two sons dirty diapers.

    Happy taping!

  • What? Me, worry? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by panda (10044) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:50PM (#14927281) Homepage Journal
    In this era where we worry so much about identity theft, this sort of thing really makes you wonder what the point really is.

    The point is, that there isn't any point. :)

    It's exactly that kind of thing, and the real lack of concern that I've witnessed from gov't agencies and financial institutions all along, concerning everything from someone's actual name and SSN being used as an alias by a known felon (and the SSA refusing to issue a new SSN for the "victim") to loan officers that say that there's so much junk data on credit reports that they often ignore a lot of it, that caused me not to worry if my "identity" is "stolen."

  • Opt out (Score:2, Informative)

    For folks in the US: To opt out of receiving offers of credit in the mail, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idtheft .htm#Minimizing/ [ftc.gov]
  • This type of activity is not new. Anything can get passed off and passed by other people. Some anecdotal evidence:

    I accidentally deposited a co-workers check into my bank account. I picked hers up by mistake as her mailbox in the office is right above me. I signed the back and took it to the bank and deposited it. Later that day, I looked in my mailbox and there was my check. I asked the secretary if anyone was missing his check. Sure enough, I had deposited the wrong one. I didn't catch it, and the Bank
  • Agreed, sometimes I wonder why I bother using SSL for all email, TSL/SSL for all chat and firewalls and other security methods; once my data is out of my hands it's up to the weakest link in the chain to define how secure I am. You really need to provide more to get CC, SS Cards, lic, etc...I'm thinking either fingerprints or blood - it should be at least a couple of years until those get stolen very often.
  • 1) Credit card companies send out blank checks with your account info on them, in feeble attempts to get you to spend up with a lower interest rate where they will charge you jacked up rates when you don't pay in full.(and anyone swiping your mail can use your CC
    as good as cash)

    2) Credit card companies are sending out more and more "authoritative looking" mail offers that makes it look like a check is being made out to you, but it swindles you into some sort of agreement that will cost you more.

    Even if you

  • From the http://www.ftc.gov/ [ftc.gov] websight: "1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit http://www.optoutprescreen.com/ [optoutprescreen.com] for details" This will prevent companies from pre-approving you for credit stuff. Cut down my mail by half.
  • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:06PM (#14927429) Homepage
    So, DirecTV accepted my VISA number with (a) a misspelled name and (b) an invalid expiration date and (c) a mailing address halfway across the country from mine. Now I've had to bounce a bunch of mail back and forth (including a "fraud affidavit" that requested so much information on me it might as well have been an identity theft kit in its own right).

    Clearly they didn't make even the slightest attempt to validate the charge. I've closed that account and put fraud watches on our credit and so forth, of course, and no other suspicious charges have shown up. Still, it makes me nervous.

    Meanwhile, my father-in-law discovered his bank account was several hundred dollars short. Turns out he was auto-paying someone else's gas bill. My wife had a heck of a time straightening that out. The bank insisted it was the utility's responsibility and vice versa. "He signed up for automatic payment!"

    "My father doesn't own a computer. Why would you authorize withdrawls for someone else's utility bill in the first place? Especially when their account number is identical except for two transposed digits..."

    A mistake in that case, but it would be so easy to do that deliberately...

  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:35PM (#14927726) Journal
    is send you endless reams of "balance transfer" cheques or convenience cheques. Not only are they a complete rip off to use as interest and endless fees apply the second you use one, but they get mixed in with all the other crap they love to send you in the envelope and you don't realize they're there. You end up throwning them away in the trash without voiding or otherwise defacing them to make them worthless. Any enterprising thief scrounging through your garbage can come across them and use them. This happened to a good friend of mine when she threw them away thinking they were some sort of advertising without realizing they were real cheques. Cheque fraud isn't the easiest thing in the world to do anymore, especially in Canada where no merchants will accept cheques anymore, but it does happen.

    Ask them to stop sending them to you and they swear up and down it will happen, but it never does. It's just too lucritive for them to stop sending them to you.
  • If you tear something up, put the odd slices in this weeks trash, and the even slices in next weeks (or better, next year's) trash.

    Then let's see them put it back together...

  • by jridley (9305) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:43PM (#14929875)
    Shred the application, but if it came with a postage-paid return envelope, take all the rest of the crap in there, and fold up the outer envelope as well, and maybe some sawdust and dust bunnies, and mail it back to them so they have to pay the postage. Make sure you shred the bit that had your name and address on it or they might give you a credit card anyway.

    Something to do while watching movies.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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