7 On Your Side

Citibank mailer mistake causes fraud concern

Friday, February 10, 2012

If you've noticed more credit card offers in your mailbox lately, you are not alone. Banks mailed out an estimated $5 billion such offers last year -- double the number of 2010. But all that mail led to at least one worrisome mix-up.

It only seems logical that the more they mail out, the more potential there is for a mistake. In fact there was a glitch in one big bank mailer and a Bay Area woman is very worried about the potential for fraud.

They're back -- credit card offers in your mailbox. Marlene Miller gets at least one each week and each week, she makes sure they get shredded.

"I shred it and I know it will be disposed of," said Miller.

That way she says thieves cannot possibly find them and try to obtain a credit card in her name. Except, now, she can't be sure of that either.

"I noticed the name and address on the application wasn't me," said Miller.

Miller received a Citibank credit card offer with her name and address on the envelope. But inside, the application was pre-printed with the name and address of a complete stranger -- someone named Belle. It said that woman's name and address would appear on her new credit card.

Now Miller is worried -- if she had Belle's application, who has hers?

"Since mine went to someone else presumably, I have no idea what they did with it, whether they shredded it, tossed it out or are trying to do something nefarious with it," said Miller.

The form also allows applicants to put down a different address -- which she found even more scary.

"Someone could try to get a credit card sent to them based on my credit record," said Miller.

Miller photocopied the mailer and sent the original back to the bank, warning Citi "not to open an account in her name."

When she didn't hear back, Miller contacted 7 On Your Side. We asked Consumer Action about this -- is it a worry?

"Is it likely anyone will use it, no but there is an elevated risk of identity theft if this application is floating out there," said Joe Ridout of Consumer Action.

Next we contacted Citibank, which investigated right away. The bank soon declared the mix-up was an isolated incident saying, "We are committed to protecting our clients' information and take this feedback very seriously. We have strong safeguards in place to verify consumers' information and have confirmed that there are no open accounts for this individual."

Miller is feeling a little better.

"Probably nothing's going to happen but it's disconcerting," said Miller.

It is possible to stop the flow of unwanted credit card offers to your mailbox. All you do is submit an "opt out" request with the three major credit bureaus.

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Tags:
citigroup, credit cards, fraud, 7 on your side, michael finney
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