Odd credit card mail
February 6, 2009 11:24 AM   Subscribe

In yesterday's mail there was a letter from a credit card company. It had my address with another person's name. What are the possible reasons for this and what actions (if any) should I take?

Relevant information:

We have been in our house for ten years. No one else has lived here. (no old occupant mail has ever come)

We do not have a credit card from this company (American express).

The letter was a denial for credit.

No one has been around our mail box.

There is no person on our street with this name.

If it was attempt at fraud, wouldn't someone use our name, not our address?

Should I call the company who sent the letter, call the police, place fraud alert on our credit report, all or none of the above?

Thanks very much.
posted by scubbadubba to Law & Government (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Reasons, I don't know. One easy action is to write, "Not at this address" on the envelope and put it back in the mailbox.
posted by not that girl at 11:30 AM on February 6, 2009

It could be an accident on the part of the person who typed in the application form, does your street have a North and South (or East and West) versions, that could have gotten mixed up during data entry?

It could be a low-level fraud against AMEX; they had a booth at some public event with a s "sign up and get this gift" offer, and someone who wanted the gift, but not the AMEX, just threw in some bogus info that happened to line up with your address.

It wouldn't hurt to put a fraud alert on your credit, the police probably won't care because if it is a theft attempt, it failed, and they're too busy trying to solve crimes caused by more successful criminals, but YMMV.
posted by nomisxid at 11:31 AM on February 6, 2009

You might want to check your credit report (which you can do for free once a year). I discovered a few years ago that for one of the bureaus, my address and SSN were associated with another name -- same initials, same last name, but different first name. Didn't happen on the other two bureaus, and I have no clue how it got that way, but I did once get mail for the other person at my address.
posted by olinerd at 11:39 AM on February 6, 2009

I second checking your credit report, sometimes 2 different people's info can get conflated. You can get your report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com

If you do find other people's info on your report, contact the bureaus to see how it can be fixed.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:44 AM on February 6, 2009

You might want to check your credit report (which you can do for free once a year).

There are three credit bureaus, so you can get a free credit report from each of them once a year. You can stagger out the requests every four months, if you like, or you can request all of them at the same time.
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

They often show different information. I used to suggest Experian, then Equifax, then Transunion. But really there's no way to know if anything will show up at all (about this) or if it will show up on all three, or just one.

Call Amex's fraud line and talk to them.
posted by cashman at 12:31 PM on February 6, 2009

Call AMEX before you go to any other effort. A few years ago, I got a similar letter, called their cust. service line and their CSR told me due to a database fiasco, AMEX sent out thousands of similarly mis-addressed letters.
posted by jamaro at 12:34 PM on February 6, 2009

Second jamaro: Call AmEx. There should be a number on the letter you received. Just tell them that that person doesn't live at that address. They'll probably be glad to hear from you.
posted by valkyryn at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2009

What everone else has said, but really why is this even an issue? Mistakes in addressees and addresses happen all the time. Give it back to the postman or just throw it away.
posted by elendil71 at 2:04 PM on February 6, 2009

What everone else has said, but really why is this even an issue?

Step one: apply for a card in your real name, or a fake name, but someone else's address.

Step two: if this is a success, intercept the card at the mailbox and go shopping. If you used a fake name, it'll be online shopping, and if you used a real name, it'll be in-person shopping.

Step three: throw the card away if it was in-person shopping, and intercept the shipment(s) at the mailbox if it was internet shopping.

Step four: when the credit card companies come looking for payment, they'll start harassing the people at the address you used.

Odds are it won't work, because the credit card companies try to prevent this from happening -- so someone doing this is likely going to fill out more than one application, to improve those odds. Just because one failed doesn't mean none of them succeeded. So best to follow up and keep an eye on the credit reports for a while.
posted by davejay at 6:32 PM on February 6, 2009

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