Chase Reactivates Dead Card Without Your Permission

Erica writes:

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. is the place to go to get a copy of your credit report for free, once a year, with all the three credit bureaus.


Edit Your Comment

  1. AaronZ says:

    Is there any inherent danger in this? Or is it more of an annoyance that they’re doing it?

  2. NoWin says:

    “Later, at a staff meeting…”….

    Don’t laugh, I’ve been stuck shaking my head in those meetings….

  3. B says:

    @AaronZ: Well, they sent the new card to the cardholder’s new address. If somehow they got her mixed up with somebody else and sent the card to the wrong address, it could cause all sorts of problems. Also, as we’ve learned, mail has a way of getting lost, so sending out unsolicited credit cards is a good way for them to get stolen without anybody knowing.

  4. wickedpixel says:

    should be illegal. say that reissued credit card gets stolen from the mail. if you had been expecting a credit card in the mail you would be aware of not receiving it. however, since you weren’t expecting anything, the thief has ample time to run up charges (now that we know the card doesn’t have to be activated first) before you know anything is up. if as far as you know that account has been closed for years, it’s not like you’d be checking the balance on it.

  5. IphtashuFitz says:

    @AaronZ: Well there’s always the chance that the credit cards they mail out to you won’t arrive for whatever reason. If you move they’ll likely have your old address on file. If you’re unlucky the post office will accidentally deliver the card to the wrong address. (I live in a condo complex and this happens ALL THE TIME.) How would you feel if a bank re-opened a closed account of yours without your knowledge, and the credit card they sent you (which you know nothing about since you’re not expecting one) ends up falling into the hands of somebody willing to use it? It’d wreak havoc with your credit report, among other things.

  6. AdamthePugh says:

    I used to work for Bank One and of course they merged with Chase – so it is all the same company now. Bank One had a practice of sending out new cards on accounts people ‘thought’ they had closed. But of course they had not. I am sure person did close their account, BUT Bank One can come up with a whole host of reasons for reactivating your account. It is a little nutty. Notice I said I ‘used’ to work there.

  7. AMetamorphosis says:


    … AND the consumer who didn’t ask for the card would be stuck fighting identity theft.

  8. Buran says:

    It is true that it’s good for your credit rating to keep the accounts open as they are longstanding unutilized credit. However, they shouldn’t have reopened the account without your permission…

  9. Major-General says:

    Umm, Chase didn’t buy old BankOne accounts…they bought BankOne.

  10. BigBoat says:

    Isn’t there a legal claim here, breach of contract(cardholder agreement)? Lawyers in the house?

  11. scoosdad says:

    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.

    How can that be? I’m pretty sure that credit card numbers of the same type all start with the same number (Visa = a 4, for example, I think Master Card is a 5). So if the bank switched you from a Master Card to Visa, at least the first digit would have been different.

  12. ARPRINCE says:

    The CSR does have one good point though and that is the card should give a boost to your credit score since it makes a better credit to loan ratio (no balance).

    If I knew that 8 years ago, I would have not closed some of my cards before.

  13. Thanatos- says:

    Like the Half-Life pic :D

  14. Buran says:

    @scoosdad: I think they had two different accounts that fell under Chase due to the buyout.

    I showed a coworker of mine that the first four digits actually indicate the issuing bank by dropping my Citibank Mastercard on top of hers and pointing out that the first four digits matched. She thought that was pretty neat.

  15. Skrizzy says:

    @scoosdad: It sounds like she really didn’t look at the cards so she probably didn’t notice.

  16. scoosdad says:

    @Buran: And I always get peeved when an online site asks for my card number and what kind of card is it (e.g. Mastercard, Visa, Amex, etc.). The number will tell them that.

  17. B says:

    @scoosdad: It’s a security feature to make sure you’re not using a fake number. Admittedly, it’s not a foolproof measure, but it’s still a good idea.

  18. first2letters says:

    In February, I received a new Chase credit card, unsolicited and never applied for, with a $5,000 open line of credit. (My wife and I are already Chase customers, paying down the balance on another card, and have no other active cards to our name.) I’m actually kind of relieved to know this is happening to other people, as the CSRs and supervisors I’ve spoken with after canceling the card have suggested it’s a case of fraud and have repeatedly dumped me into customer-service black holes when I attempt to get a copy of whatever documentation might’ve been used to open the account. My credit report indicates that fraud or identity theft isn’t the case, and while I realize this sort of thing happens, it seems a bit of a stretch that someone would’ve attempted to defraud me by having a new card sent to my current address via the locked mailbox on my block.

  19. fluiddruid says:

    Chase absolutely refused to cancel a card completely for me – they stated that “closing” the account would always be pending for six months. No amount of arguing would change their mind, so I left it as it was and it did close out after that time. I just wanted to close the account because I had transferred the credit limit to a different Chase card, too.

  20. econobiker says:

    Is is probable that they are raising these cards from the dead in order to benefit from fees/ etc when the cardholders start using the card again?

    Also – some companies love to give you multiple cards yet not combine the credit limits so the customers have 200% more potential for paying fees/over limit charges on more than one card.

  21. says:

    Hi, I’m the OP :)

    @scoosdad: We have a totally unrelated Chase Mastercard account that we’ve had for years (and that we’ve always known is open). I assumed these cards were for that account, because I didn’t look at them longer than two seconds. Once I did look at them it was quite obvious they were Visas, therefore not the Mastercard account.

    I actually had a bad shock when I went back through the mail and found the new Chase cards again — “Huh? I just cancelled that account number… SHIT, DID I CLOSE OUR OLDEST CHASE ACCOUNT???” [three seconds panic] “Er, wait, this is a Visa not a Mastercard…”

  22. TechnoDestructo says:

    Chase is scum.

    They have no regard for their own customers, and even less for customers they acquire from other banks. They will do whatever they want to your accounts, not only without your permission, but without even any notification. And then they’ll lie about everything.

    Banks in general might not be the most ethical organizations the last few years (or decades), but Chase are ELITE scumbags.

  23. TechnoDestructo says:

    Chase changed me from a Providian Mastercard to a Chase Visa. I suspect they could do the same with their own customers.

    Also, why would you panic over closing a Chase account? Taking a small hit to your credit score would be worth it to give those douchebags the finger.

  24. SkyeBlue says:

    I guess I must be the only person in the world who has NOT had any problems with Chase. I have 2 cards with them and every time I call their customer service I’ve had no problems with them. Unlike Juniper bank that charged me a $29.00 late fee on my one and only late (as literally in 1 day late) payment to them and they refused to remove it.

    I call Chase every 6 months or so and ask them to lower my interest rates. Almost everytime I have asked them to they have. Just recently they lowered the rate of one of my cards 3% without my asking.

  25. lemur says:

    @Thanatos-: I don’t remember the Half-Life zombies carrying credit cards though.

  26. says:

    @TechnoDestructo: I agree it would be worth it. Our other card is a four years old (versus seven for the Chase MC), so it’s not like we’d suddenly be massive credit risks if it closed. BUT, I’m not the only owner of the card, and my husband is pretty adamant about keeping it open. Not really panicking — but not caring enough to stick it to them.

    However, they get no financial benefit from us having a card we never use. (Indeed, they spend money sending us those damn checks [which we’ve requested not keep coming every time we get them].) Before this we didn’t use it because we preferred the rewards system on our other card; after this, we won’t use it because they’re unethical bastards who don’t deserve merchant fees.

    @SkyeBlue: Hehehe… I was offered an APR of 0.75% if I chose to keep the account open!

  27. mcs328 says:

    Hey this just happened to me too. I received a letter at my old address from 10 years ago. I called the number on the back and asked what happened. Apparently they said Chase Manhattan had bought my local bank credit card business and automatically sent out renewed credit cards. I had it cancelled but it makes you think what the hell are these companies thinking.

  28. sgmax2 says:

    Chase also sent me an unsolicited credit card, when I had never been a Chase customer. The scary thing is that they sent it to my old address, but sent the PIN to my new address.
    I have to say that they are clowns. Scary clowns, because they obviously bought my details from another bank but were not competent enough to send the card to my current address. It took two phone calls and a LOT of arguing to close an account I never requested. I would NEVER open an account with Chase after that experience.

  29. charodon says:

    I don’t think keeping a card with a $0 balance on it helps your credit rating. You should close accounts you never use.

  30. WhirlyBird says:

    The sad part is, he thinks the account is closed now. It’s not.

  31. Machete_Bear says:

    I guess in a strange roundabout way, headcrabs are committing identity theft.

  32. first2letters says:

    When I was finally able to get my call escalated to a supervisor who sounded somewhat knowledgeable about the process for closing the account and opening an investigation into just who might’ve opened it in the first place (my guess being Chase), I was told that, since I’d canceled the unsolicited card before anything was charged to it and technically no wrongdoing had occurred, the likelihood of anything ever getting resolved through Chase’s investigations department was slim. The general tone of all my calls to Chase was that they might’ve screwed up (and screwed me), but it was my problem to clean up the mess. In other words, a big middle finger.

  33. AMetamorphosis says:


    Unfortunately closing 0 balances does affect your FICO score in several ways:

    1. You are dinged when you close an account.
    2. Your available credit to used credit can go down thereby appearing as if you are deeper in debt.

    Regardless, I will gladly take the minor ding if I have been treated poorly by a credit grantor.

    Can some expand on this ?
    Although I understand credit, sometimes I have a trouble explaining this …


  34. marilynjdoyle says:

    Chase Home Finance should be avoided at all costs. I took out a home equity line of credit with Bank of NY. No real problems. But, when Chase took over the loan, it turned into a nightmare. Their reps “stretch the truth” and they seem to have one goal…to foreclose. I finally took out another loan to pay them off in full. But, Chase stalled on giving a payoff figure. While they were stalling, they continued to hit me with a per diem interest charge. Chase gave an inflated payoff figure and I had to open a complaint with the OCC to get a refund. They never provided me with an itemized payoff statement. Beware of Chase Home Finance!!

  35. justdan says:

    I canceled my Chase credit card due to the attempt to trick me into signing up for some service using what looked like a check after seeing the problem in lights on Consumerist. Now, I feel even better about it, although they better not revive my account!