If you receive an unsolicited credit card in the mail then there is a problem. It is illegal for companies to send you a card that you did not request. However, it’s possible that you’ve received something different such as a pre-screened offer of credit or a an advance-fee credit card offer. Here’s what you should do if you receive something like this in the mail.
Figure Out What You Received
There are many different things that can look like an unsolicited credit card. A few examples include:
- Advance-fee cards including those that can only be used for very limited purchases such as items purchased through a specific catalog. SeattlePi has a good story explaining this type of situation.
- An opt-out credit card. In other words, you receive the credit card account unless you choose to specifically deny it. While it’s illegal to send an unsolicited credit card, there’s a loophole in the Truth and Lending Act that sometimes makes this variation legal.
- A replacement credit card for an existing credit account. Perhaps you thought you canceled the account but you did not.
- Prescreened credit card offers. You might receive a faux credit card that looks a lot like a real credit card but is actually an offer of credit. It is not illegal to send these but they can be very confusing. Note that you can opt out of prescreened offered.
First things first, figure out what you were sent. That will tell you how to proceed. For example, if you received a prescreened credit card offer that you don’t wish to accept, then usually you can just shred that junk mail and forget about it. Alternatively, if you received a replacement credit card for an account that you thought was closed then you will need to contact the lender to complete cancellation of that account.
If You Received An Unsolicited Credit Card
If you did indeed receive an unsolicited credit card, then you need to take action. It is illegal for any lender to sign you up for a credit card that you did not request. In rare instances, this might be a mistake on the part of the lender. In many cases, it could be related to identity theft. Alternatively, you might be dealing with a nefarious lender. Regardless of the situation, here are the steps that you need to take if you received an unsolicited credit card:
- Call the customer service number for the lender who has issued the credit card.
- Speak to a representative and tell them that you received an unsolicited credit card.
- Express that you do not want this credit card. Moreover, tell them that you want the account canceled immediately.
- They should be able to cancel the credit card account while you are on the phone with them. Ask them to send you confirmation in writing that the account has been closed.
- Send your own confirmation letter to them as well. In other words, document in writing that you have closed the account. Make sure you include the credit card account number, the date you canceled, the name of the representative that you spoke with, and any other pertinent information. Keep a copy of this for yourself as well.
- Monitor your credit cards carefully. If you want to be extra careful, you could freeze all of your other accounts and ask the lenders to issue new cards. Alternatively, you can monitor your accounts carefully over the next few weeks to make sure that this isn’t a larger problem of identity theft.
If you believe that the lender violated the law by sending you an unsolicited credit card, then you might want to report them. You can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission to make this type of report. You can also file a report with your local police department.