In April, I did a post on how easy it was to tape together a ripped up credit card application, change the address and telephone number (a cell phone was used) and get a brand new credit card.
NBC News did basically the same thing that Rob - Cockeyed.com blogger did - and got similar results:
From the NBC News story:
You think ripping up those credit card applications is enough to prevent identity theft? Think again.
Getting the credit card applications has never been the problem. It's what to do after they pile up that's the real consumer dilemma.
We've been warned for years-- if you don't want 'em, destroy 'em. However, ripping and tearing may no longer seem like enough.
With five applications, and a little muscle, we started ripping. Scotch taped them back together. And wrote around the tape- filling out the application the way an identity thief might if he'd been digging in our garbage.
NBC News story, here.
And the results were a 60 percent success rate, or they got 3 brand new credit cards.
The official responses to how this happened by the credit card companies were:
In a statement, chase card services says it has "rigorous policies" for handling applications and a "special handling process" for the rare torn applications. In this case, however, "it is clear to us our procedures were not entirely followed for this particular application...and we are investigating."
For the two cards it issued, Bank of America, which merged with MBNA, says the applications "both went through the proper verification processes" and that "the signature, social security number and birth date matched" a (current) customer with excellent credit.
The company added that it sometimes sends cards to unrelated addresses as a convenience customers have requested.
Many of these institutions are claiming they have a "zero liability" for fraud - the reality is that we are all paying for it in the form of increased fees and interest rates.
After all - how would they stay in business otherwise?
A lot of them are also selling "identity theft products," which adds another revenue stream to their coffers. Some believe they have helped create this industry by not protecting their customer's information in a "responsible manner."
The conclusion of the NBC article was to "opt out" and of course - buy a good shredder.
You can opt out by calling 1-888-5-opt-out.
It's a shame that we all need to buy shredders and "opt out" to protect ourselves from "marketing practices" that victimize innocent people.
Here is a recent post, I did on how credit cards can (getcha):
A Hidden Cost of Identity Theft - "Credit Card Gotchas"