Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 15, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

SECURITY SECRETS OF THE CREDIT CARD INDUSTRY....From the Annals of Identity Theft comes an investigation into how easy it is to apply for credit cards in someone else's name:

I get a heck of a lot of credit card applications in the mail. A bunch for Visa, quite a few from Mastercard and tons of them from American Express.

I almost always tear them in half and throw them away. Sometimes, if I am feeling particularly paranoid, I'll tear them into little bitty pieces.

Is that good enough? Could a determined and dexterous criminal gather all the bits, tape them together and apply for a card in my name? Would a credit card company balk when confronted with an obviously resurrected application?

I think you can probably guess how this turned out, but click the link and read one man's look at the credit card industry anyway. It turns out there was more to it than just tearing up the application.....

UPDATE: More here.

Kevin Drum 7:02 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Shred early, shred often, and check your credit report regularly.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 15, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

The great part about clicking through to his site is that the Google ads are all for -- you guessed it -- credit card applications.

Posted by: Glenn on March 15, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why blame the poor credit card companies? Why this is just more evidence of the epidemic of people abusing the trust of lenders by charging up things and then resorting to cheap and easy bankruptcy. Thank God our Congress passed the bankruptcy reform bill. All of us who exercise personal repsonsibility and honor our debts pay more because of abuses like thekind described here. Why, it's a wonder the poor people at VISA can earn any profit at all. Now. If we could just address the medical malpractice crisis ...

Posted by: Pat on March 15, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Now. If we could just address the medical malpractice crisis ...

The solution is obvious. Charge all your medical bills to fake Visa cards.

Posted by: craigie on March 15, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

If he would just give us his parent's address, we could all get some free credit.

Posted by: craigie on March 15, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

While you're checking out the guy's credit card story, you may as well spend a few minutes on his TGI Friday's menu prank:

http://www.cockeyed.com/pranks/menu/menu01.html

Tee hee.

Posted by: crabshack on March 15, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Keevvvinnn,

You need to respond to Greeennnwallllddd.


C'mon - we are waiting.

Posted by: JC on March 15, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Cockerham's gags and fun art projects are just wonderful.

Look for the mall food court art replacement story.

There's a serious amateur investigation of shabby MLM scams on cockeyed as well.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on March 15, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Stage your garbage, and throw the two halves of all junk mail into different bags.

Posted by: onetwothree on March 15, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Freeze your credit (if you live in a state that's implemented this law).

http://www.privacy.ca.gov/sheets/cis10securityfreeze.htm

Posted by: Monkey on March 15, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not particularly impressed that this application got through. There's nothing odd about using a cell-phone as your preferred contact - I do it routinely. And the 'false' address was his father's home. Where he probably used to live recently if he still has time for pranks like this. Even if not, there would be a last name match.

Would a thief know any of this information? No. So what's the point again?

Posted by: Dan Ryan on March 15, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

You would think with all the grief this industry is causing, a responsible lender could find a niche in the market.

Anybody know of one?

Posted by: Emma Zahn on March 15, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Don't respond to Greenwald. It's as pointless to argue with left-wing fundamentalists as it is to argue with right-wing fundamentalists. According to him you were repeating GOP propoganda. That is just silly.

Posted by: gq on March 15, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, Feingold voted for Roberts. Why no outcry against that? Oh wait, people are good or bad based only on current positions...

Posted by: gq on March 15, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

At least his Dad knows how to get another credit card now.

Is there a politician out there that is trying to come up with a real solution? I'd like to be able to put my name on a list that required credit card applications to be filled out in person.

Posted by: B on March 15, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

What's the big deal about using a cell phone as the phone number on the application?

About 90% of people I know don't have landline phones anymore, because they live in different apartments all the time.

Posted by: Cryptic Ned on March 15, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shred everything. Shredders are cheap and easy to use. Cross cuts work fine.

I have a case right now where some professional plaintiff bought a credit card debt from one of the big credit card companies. They sued my client. She claims that she never had a card with the big company. We have asked for anything with her signature. Maybe she signed on to something she forgot or maybe the debt involved some furniture she bought from a store. My client, however, is insistent. She thinks somebody took out a card in her name. At this point I don't have any reason to doubt her. It might take weeks for the other side to respond. It could happen to you.

As the guy up thread said, check your credit report often. Shred everything. Don't give out your social security number unless you really really know who you are dealing with. Whatever you do, don't respond to any online request for a verification of account information.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 15, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

A few years back my wife received a credit card in the mail for which she had not replied. She did, however, recall receiving the offer a few months before, which she promptly tossed. After looking over the terms of the card, she decided it was worth having that particular card. So she called the number, and was told she could not activate the card because the phone number they had was different from ours. The person at the credit card company thought someone had fished the application out of the trash, and forgotten to change the address.

Not long after that, I bought a shredder. All credit card offers now go in there. In fact, just about all the junk mail gets shredded. I figure if someone is enterprising enough to try to sort through the strips, they can have some magazine subscriptions and solicitations from charities to work with, too.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on March 15, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm not particularly impressed that this application got through. There's nothing odd about using a cell-phone as your preferred contact - I do it routinely. And the 'false' address was his father's home. Where he probably used to live recently if he still has time for pranks like this. Even if not, there would be a last name match. Would a thief know any of this information? No. So what's the point again?"

I dunno, I think if I received a credit card application that had been torn apart and then taped back together and filled out, I would give it a little extra-special scrutiny.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 15, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa, whoa. Credit Cards?
Dude?
You are so OWN3D.
http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/

"Stick a fork in 'im, he's done" Gorilla Monsoon

You should apologize to Feingold...NOW punk.

Posted by: wank on March 15, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I figure if someone is enterprising enough to try to sort through the strips, they can have some magazine subscriptions and solicitations from charities to work with, too."

Well, I haven't started mixing subscriptions and solicitations in with the shredded stuff yet, but I *do* mix the shredded stuff with cat litter.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 15, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

I just went through something similar with Discover. Someone called them and got $9500 FROM MY CARD transferred to a bank account.

I didn't have to pay, but it took hours and hours and hours on the phone to clear up.

But then ...

... IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!! THEY LET SOMEONE DO IT A SECOND TIME! Even though the very same thing had been done on my card a few months earlier they let someone call and transfer $9500 TO THE SAME BANK again!

These credit card companies have no security and don't care.

Posted by: Dave Johnson on March 15, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

i just checked my credit reports and **whew** there's nothing untoward on them. but this will make me much more careful about shredding all the junk mail.

hmm, mix in the cat litter, i like that one.

Posted by: e1 on March 15, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Just what is the legal background letting the CC companies get out of most of the blame? Who in Congress and the courts etc. goes to bat for them, and who does not? This should be a campaign issue.

Posted by: Neil' on March 15, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

here's a fun game:

every time you get any shit in the mail with a pre-paid envelope, well gosh, you can mail ANYTHING back to them!

like, say, a buch of rocks. other heavy objects work well, too. remember, the heavier it is, the more they have to pay.

want to wrap the envelope around a brick? remember to use plenty of packing tape.

have fun!

Posted by: rqz on March 15, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't the fake Al have been here by now to explain that if the credit card companies issues a credit card to someone else in your name its your fault?

Posted by: cactus on March 15, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

There is certainly no problem. I repeat, not a problem, of that I am certain.

And simple, common sense government regulation of this non-problem would certainly not solve this easily solved problem. Laws would only make these negligent, predatory lenders have to stop their crimes, and doesn't that make you a criminal? Is that what you want?

Don't forget, we have the best, most special government in the world because it's of the people, for the people and by the people. You've heard it since grade school, so it must be true.

Now shut up or we'll have to ignore you, because you're too radical.

--

This message paid for by the entire GOP with a reacharound by Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden.

Posted by: Tim B. on March 15, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Stage your garbage, and throw the two halves of all junk mail into different bags.

This bears repeating. I'd add that one or both of those bags could be for the recycler.

Posted by: Grumpy on March 15, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sheet Ya damm Fools.. I dun Heerd whut yew sayd.
A holes. If'n yew dint ever have no damm credit yew woodn't be in debt wood ya?
An If'm yew dint live offin da damm credit cards they woodn't be in da damm mailbox now wood they??

Ohh Yay, I hab werked in yer rich plastic houses, yeh debt built and bankowned,,sheehttt da mericun way, go in debt!

Woo Own sumthinm till you pay it oFF at great Interest.. YaY oh YaY financial Wizzzerds!

Wooooo!

Anywayz dey is skrewin Yew
Not Me.
HaH!

Posted by: Fake Al on March 15, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Howz meny credeath Kardz yew gots FakkE AL?

Why An Aint gott Nun. But Ah be lookin at those
thats got alots. Durn Fools.

Posted by: Fake Al on March 15, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

How Yew Likes Fake AL Now?

Posted by: Fake Al on March 15, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kinda makes you wonder. The credit card companies don't care. You're working for money that isn't real. It's all fake. The government just prints it out whenever they need it, and then jack up interest rates when inflation starts to catch up with the deflationary death-spiral we're in due to all our manufacturing jobs going over seas.

So if our wages are fake, and we purchase products with fake money, and our economy is based on a big fat lie - what are we?

Slaves.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on March 15, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Neil

The credit card (banking) industry owns congress, both parties. Ever hear of Joe Biden (D-MBNA), well he isn't alone. There aren't enough unbought votes in congress to make the credit card industry a scandal.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 16, 2006 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe it would work to fill out a few lines of the application in ink with a fake name, say Mickey Mouse, a fake phone number, say 11 random digits, and a signature of some fake name or other written with your other hand. Anyone who digs it out of your trash would find an unusable application.

Posted by: gem on March 16, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

The next step is to try to get 10 credit cards in 10 peoples names sent to the same recently rented PO Box -- using the same reference phone number and the same reference street address. Just stuff all the applications in the same envelope.

Posted by: ranaaurora on March 16, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

gem- that's a good solution. But what I don't understand is why it's *your* responsibility to worry about this stuff. My time is valuable and I don't like wasting it dealing with this nonsense.

Posted by: fucked inthe ass on March 16, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

I worked at a bookstore many years ago. One night, a guy came up with about $200 in books, and a cut up credit card that had been taped back together. He said his wife had cut it up without his permission. He had no ID.

I refused to take it. He made a scene, and my manager came up and ran it.

Posted by: Mysticdog on March 16, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Just what is the legal background letting the CC companies get out of most of the blame? Who in Congress and the courts etc. goes to bat for them, and who does not?

You'll get a much shorter list if you ask which Congresscreatures don't whore themselves out for the credit card industry.

Posted by: sglover on March 16, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

So if our wages are fake, and we purchase products with fake money, and our economy is based on a big fat lie - what are we?

Slaves.
Posted by: osama_been_forgotten

Well, more like indentured servants in perpetuity.

Slaves, well, are costly to maintain what with having to feed 'em, provide housing, and all.

Posted by: CFShep on March 16, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK
here's a fun game:

every time you get any shit in the mail with a pre-paid envelope, well gosh, you can mail ANYTHING back to them!

like, say, a buch of rocks. other heavy objects work well, too. remember, the heavier it is, the more they have to pay.

want to wrap the envelope around a brick? remember to use plenty of packing tape.

have fun!

What fun. Too bad it doesn't work.

Posted by: eric on March 16, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Ha! It turns out that image processing technology can reconstitute even shredded documents:

NY Times link.

Granted, probably nobody's going to do this for random credit card applications.

Posted by: DonBoy on March 16, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Ha! It turns out that image processing technology can reconstitute even shredded documents"

Hence the value of the kitty litter solution. Who really wants to get cat excrement on their expensive scanner for what may well turn out to be an invitation to buy the latest themed doodad from the Franklin Mint? :)

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 16, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'll never forget the time I received a credit card in the mail in the name of one of my cats.

The funny part wasn't that my cat had a credit card. The funny part was that when I called up have it cancelled, even after explaining that they had issued a credit card to my cat, the CC company's customer service rep tried to talk me out of cancelling it.

Posted by: patriotBoy on March 16, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly