Don’t you hate it when that Federal Breast Inspector identification card in your wallet mysteriously morphs into a Mastercard? Or, for that matter, a supermarket coupon card, wicker furniture loyalty card, or hell, a card for bankrupt-and-defunct clothes retailer Casual Corner?
It might happen more than you think. Matt wrote us in about his recent discovery that he had a hunk of fee-aggregating plastic that he didn’t even know about. A long shredded Casual Corner club card mysteriously pupated into a GE Mastercard in Matt’s name after Casual Corner bit the dust. Matt uses it as an object lesson, instructing us all that we might have a hell of a lot more credit than we actually think.
Matt’s way more draconian in the regulation and closure of his credit than we are… which is a good thing, since otherwise he would never have caught it. The lesson here? Check your credit report once a year. Matt’s email after the jump.
I’m a freak about tracking my finances. And I’m now in the proud position of hitting zero on some various charge card accounts. So I decided to perform a mini “self-audit”, and make sure the accounts I’ve zeroed out were truly closed down. For example, I paid off my Wickes Furniture card (yes, surprisingly Wickes)… so I called last week and their automated system allowed me to close the account immediately. Cool. Clean. Closure.
Then I ran across an account that belonged to my wife that I zeroed out some time ago… for Casual Corner. I guess you could call it Casualty Corner, because the chain folded. My wife had actually dismembered and tossed her card once she learned that the chain went bankrupt. But I wanted more closure. So I dug up the most recent statement, and she called the customer service number. To our amazement, she learned that her Casual Corner account had undergone a rather Kafka-esque metamorphosis, and was now a GE MasterCard. Huh? Hang on. She never authorized that, but I guess she didn’t need to.
By simply not preventing the act by calling before it happened, it had happened of it’s own accord. After calling another toll free number, the agent informed her that every account holder was sent a notice that this was going to happen, but that many people mistook it as the typical credit card come-on junk mail that we all get every day. But what was truly alarming was that somewhere out there was a GE MasterCard with her good name on it that never made it to our mailbox. Fortunately, it was never activated, and theoretically could have never been used. So she officially asked for the account to be closed immediately. They kept telling her how much they valued her as a customer, and would lowering her interest rate be enough to keep her account open. Not just NO, but Heeeelllll-NO.
I’ve seen this magic trick before. I had a Phillips 66 gas card once, and magically, it morphed into a MasterCard one day, with little warning. As soon as I saw it in my hands, I called to cancel it.
There ought to be some type of rule or law about this — that there needs to be some kind of positive confirmation or action on the part of the account holder to allow the bank to pull a switcheroo of that magnitude (going from a store or chain card to a full blown MasterCard). This leads me to believe that there a lot of unwitting consumers (besides ourselves) who may have more plastic then they think they have. I guess the only way to be sure is to pull your own Credit Report once a year, something most experts in the field recommend anyway.