WaMu Should Consider Sealing Envelopes Before Mailing Blank Checks

Maybe we’re being picky, but if you’re going to mail people blank “credit card” checks that they don’t even want, you should at least seal the envelope. Reader Brendan writes:

Today I got a solicitation from Washington Mutual to “use these paper checks” to access my account. I can’t imagine what kind of backward person uses checks to access their credit card. Nonetheless, I get one of these mailings from WaMu every couple weeks. This time, though, they didn’t bother to seal the envelope.
Hopefully you can see the pristine glue in the photo.
Maybe they’ve realized I’m not going to use the checks, and are giving strangers the opportunity to use them for me…? Maybe the Senate committee should look into mandatory Envelope Procedure Education.

Good job, Wamu. —MEGHANN MARCO

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  1. apeguero says:

    Isn’t this the same bank that didn’t give a crap when someone’s WAMU credit card was stolen before and had run up over $5,000.00 on it? Not to be paranoid or anything but if they don’t give a crap about your credit card or account being accessed and used by unauthorized people (hell, they don’t even open on weekends), then what does that tell ‘ya?

  2. bravo369 says:

    I have called capitalone and WaMu several times to stop sending me these checks. they have my account number and everything at the bottom. If someone steals my mail, they have my credit card number. These checks are useless anyway. I shred them. When I call, they always say they note the account and I should stop getting them but it seems to stop for a month and then starts up again. I am filing a complaint with the BBB if I receive them again

  3. zibby says:

    I get the damned things from Discover all the time…why? What are they supposed to do that my credit card and personal checks won’t cover?

  4. Chaluapman says:

    I’m one of those backward people that uses checks to access my Chase account. I’ll tell you why, it’s simple finance. I get a lower interest rate using those checks when I want to make big ticket purchases, usually 3.9 or 4.9, when my real rate is 9.9. So…I cut the amount of interest I pay in half while still maintaining a high payment, and it gets paid off sooner.

    Another reason is that there are still some places (even in the new millennium) that do not accept credit cards.

    People should learn to keep their personal judgments of others to themselves (the complainer). Just because one person doesn’t want the checks doesn’t mean everyone should be denied.

  5. FLConsumer says:

    I used to get these with MBNA (now FIA) and they promptly stopped sending them after I requested they do so. I cited mail thefts in the area and stated I wouldn’t be responsible for any charges incurred through such checks. The telephone rep was friendly, but to make sure, I confirmed it by sending a certified letter to MBNA’s offices.

  6. zibby says:

    @Chaluapman: Are you talking about accessing your bank account or credit card account? The checks I get have the appealing APR of 23.3% if I decide to use them. No chance of that.

    I don’t have a problem with the service existing, but rather that they send me very stealable blank checks a few times a year. Better to save the paper and make it by request.

  7. notlazyjustdontcare says:

    @Chaluapman: Isn’t it “simple finance” to avoid buying things you can’t pay for?

  8. Chaluapman says:

    I’m talking about accessing a credit card account.

    I have a chase CC and a WAMU checking account. I have to say that I have been very pleased with service from both institutions.

    I agree with you that these checks should be handled in a more secure manner, but in reality sealing the envelope only keeps honest people honest and presents a false sense of security.

    Mailing blank checks (even the boxed ones) is one of the stupidest things any financial institution can do.

  9. Chaluapman says:

    @notlazyjustdontcare:

    I have a choice, I can either pay cash for a big ticket item, or I can spread it out for 6 months, pay higher payments, and ease the burden a little.

  10. dohtem says:

    I also called WaMu about a month back to stop sending me these things. So far, I have still gotten 3 envelopes of them. They fed me some line about how it’ll take a while to get me off the mailing list.

    My last statement from them also included a page of checks. Sly bastards :(

  11. Asvetic says:

    @zibby: Agree heavily with your statement.

    I remember when these credit card “checks” started coming. I called and opted out, the CSR said it’ll take 4-6 weeks before the mailings stop because marketing already printed up the mailers. They then asked why I wanted them to stop and I submitted the excuse everyone probably gives, thief. I was worried someone was going to steal them and then I’d be in hock for whatever they buy. Their response: Why not tack on our Theft Insurance for a measly pittance of $12 a month (which goes against the standard APR of 19.9%). I was flabbergast.

    I still get those damned checks!

  12. spanky says:

    I asked Chase to stop sending me those checks a while ago, and they told me they didn’t send them anymore unless requested.

    Lie! Lie lie lie. I get I think three of them every month. I hate those things.

  13. zibby says:

    Yeah, I’ve requested a stop a couple times too. After the last request, they actually did stop for a couple years, then they started up again. Obviously what they send me is different from the WaMu stuff in some respects, but the potential hazards are the same.

  14. Do2 says:

    Or you could have fun with them. I open the envelope, fold everything back up in the return envelope and send it all back to them. (Remember, they have to pay the postage). All in all, it ends up costing them nearly a dollar for each one of these then. If all of us did this with our unsolicted junk mail, I feel confident it would all end.

  15. formergr says:

    @Chaluapman: Chaluapman- there’s a third option for many purchases, isn’t there? That’s the save up your cash every month, and then buy it at the end of the 6 months for a lot less*. And if you save cash up for it before purchasing, you can even *earn* interest off the money while it sits in the bank waiting to be used. When did saving up for something become so passe?

    *And yes, this of course assumes you’re not replacing a broken fridge or some other “need it pretty much now” item.

  16. Chaluapman says:

    @formergr:

    Yes, that is a third option. Unfortunately, my ADD and impulsiveness won’t let me take advantage of that. ;)

    Not to mention, I’m a spoiled brat.:)

  17. AnnC says:

    @formergr: Let’s say you charge a new TV for $1000 on the credit card. If the card has 10% interest and you pay of the amount in 6 months, then the total amount paid will be $1050 (it’ll be a little more but let’s keep it simple).

    The other option is to save the cash and by it at the end. If you get 5% interest, the at the end of 6 months you will have $1025 (although probably closer to 10-15 dollars interest).

    So, is having the TV for 6 extra months worth $75? If you had $1000 now, would you wait 6 months for a sale to save $75?

    Of course, this assumes the discipline to make steady payments.

  18. Miguel Valdespino says:

    If you’re tempted, check the fine print on the credit card checks. Some of them are treated as a cash advance where the interest starts from date of purchase.

  19. formergr says:

    Hee, Chaluapman, great answer :) AnnC, assuming my current tv wasn’t broken (because, the horror!) yeah, I actually would. I see your point on the math, that certainly isn’t going to make or break someone, but I feel like if I let myself do it for the tv, then I’d do it for other things, and my discipline isn’t that great and it might get out of control. I dunno, it just feels like it all adds up in the end and would overtime snowball to be way more than $75…

    This probably makes no sense and is my own little quirk, but it’s the same reason why I don’t keep much in the way of snacks or junk food in the house– this way I won’t even be tempted to start eating it, much less stop after a reasonable amount.

  20. Kristy says:

    I got a WaMu checking/debit account in October 2006 and my boyfriend just opened one in February 2007. Both times, when our debit card arrived in the mail, the envelope was not sealed properly. It freaked me out to see that someone could have easily taken the card out of the envelope. I was just glad it was in there at all and hadn’t accidentally slipped out!