Unsolicited Credit Card Offers

In these days of rampant identity theft, coupled with credit-card offers arriving in the mail almost daily, we need to be well-informed about safeguards that are in place to help protect our credit and our financial security.

Did you know that Georgia has a state law [O.C.G.A. Section 10-1-393(b)(29.1)] prohibiting a bank or credit-card company from issuing a card to an applicant at the address on the credit application, if it differs substantially from the address to which the initial unsolicited offer was sent?  Before the issuer can do this legally, it must take steps to verify the validity of the applicant’s address, adhering to federal guidelines set forth in subsection (1) of 31 U.S.C. Section 5318.

A company may, however, upon receiving an application, issue a credit card to a person or commercial customer with whom it already has a business relationship, provided the address to which the card is mailed is valid based on information in the records of the card issuer or its affiliates.

If you should have the misfortune to learn that credit was issued to someone else in your name using an address other than yours, you should immediately report this to law enforcement, the financial institution, any one of the three main credit-reporting agencies (TransUnionExperian or Equifax), the Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Division and the Federal Trade Commission.

You can also request that national companies stop mailing you credit card offers, as well as other unsolicited advertising mail, by registering with the Direct Marketing Association (Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512).   This will help reduce but will not totally eliminate the amount of commercial mail you receive at home.

As an added measure, you can have your name and address removed from prescreened mailing lists obtained from the national credit-reporting agencies by going to www.optoutprescreen.com or by calling 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688).