Recently, my husband and I got two new Chase credit cards in the mail. I didn’t look closely, assuming that this was a new card for our never-used Chase Mastercard account. This account has been around for seven years, but we prefer another card with a rewards system; the Mastercard account is open only to benefit our credit rating. Therefore, no urgency in activating it — I dropped it in the bill pile to deal with later.
Completely unrelated, I decided the next day that it was a nice time to pull my yearly free credit report. Everything was as it should have been, except an old Visa BankOne account which I had from early 2003 to mid 2004 was not listed as closed. Curious, I called the customer service number from the last bill and found that it did seem to be active — thankfully, with a zero balance on the card. The weird part was that it wouldn’t accept my old billing zip code, but was quite happy with my current address; since we moved here only a few months ago, I am positive I never told the credit card company the new address when I was canceling many years ago.
I spoke to the cancellation department, who persistently tried to sell me on the advantages of keeping this account open while her computer “processed the request” to close the account. After three minutes of protesting this account should have been closed years ago, I gave up and let her chatter, grunting every now and then so she wouldn’t think I’d hung up.
“My goodness, this account has been open five years and has always been in good standing. That’s great for your credit report!” (It should have been closed years ago!)
“We can offer you a very low APR, which is great if you carry a balance!” (You mean that four-year-old $0 balance?)
“You can add a reward system to this card, and get free gas or airline miles!” (urrrrrg….)
“If you ever want to reopen this account, you’ll have to go through the approval process all over!” (Whatever.)
After a couple minutes of grunting, she confirmed the account was closed. I hung up and went on my merry way.
At this point, I thought this was just some quirk that had happened in 2004 — either I had not closed the account as I remembered, or a computer glitch had left it open. But, the next day as I sorted through the bill pile, I looked more closely at the two Chase cards we’d received. They were in fact Visa, not Mastercard, and matched the account number I had just closed. Chase had sent me two cards for an account that they acquired from BankOne, found my new mailing address, and reopened the account without my knowledge or permission.
The cards are cut up and the account is closed with Chase. I feel abused, though; I would have been a hell of a lot angrier on the call to close the account if I had known the entire situation. We don’t really want to cancel our other, seven-year-old, Chase account, since it’s good for the credit rating and all; so unfortunately, the only way I can “punish” them for doing this is continue to not use the old Mastercard account, thereby not giving them any merchant fees.
Bankone: Hey, what are we going to do with these closed credit card accounts?
Chase: Hey, I’ll buy them!
BankOne: Here you go, cheap, by the bushel!
Chase: Gee thanks!
Later, at a staff meeting…
Chase Boi 1: Hey what are we going to do with all these dead credit card accounts we just bought?
Chase Boi 2:I know, let’s turn ‘em back on and send ‘em new cards. Some people will use them and we’ll make money off the fees.
Chase Boi 1: If anyone complains, we’ll pour sugar in their ears about how great the card is and if they really really push, we’ll just close it down!
Chase Boi 2: Brilliant!
It’s always important to be mindful and attentive when new credit cards are sent to you in the mail unexpectedly. Also, check your credit report for errors, like accounts you thought were closed, and follow up on any inconsistencies. Annualcreditreport.com is the place to go to get a copy of your credit report for free, once a year, with all the three credit bureaus.