This is an older story, and you may have seen this already but I found this too enticing to talk about, even if for the umpteenth time. If you haven’t, then cool: this should be a treat! At the very least, check out the video below.
There’s this guy named Rob Cockerham from cockeyed.com who has made it to primetime television’s 20/20 with a little “test” he came up with to prove that everyone needs to buy a shredder right now. He wanted to see what would happen if he tore up a credit card application in incredibly teeny-weeny pieces and paste it back together… in a way that looked really questionable.
Not only that, he changed the address on it to see if the company would mail a new card to an address that wasn’t the original one on the application, and listed his cell phone on the application to make it even more suspicious. And it all worked. Not long after, he got a new credit card from Chase — it was as simple as that.
The credit card company has defended itself by saying the address Cockerham used was a former residence tied to his name in their records and that regardless of the state of the application, Cockerham would have received the card anyway. Still, when you hear about things like these, you wonder what goes on behind credit card company doors.
Some facts that made me go hmmmmm:
Scary Facts About The Credit Card Industry
- Pranksters are able to get away with receiving brand spanking new credit cards even by applying with nonsensical names such as “Never Waste Trees”.
- Alan Greenspan testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee at one point stating that “dogs, cats, and moose are getting credit cards.” That is, people have successfully used the names of their children and pets to be able to open credit card accounts. So anything that has a pulse and a name can get a card. “Approve now, check later” is a recognized card industry policy.
- Card companies will approve anyone, even those with “Stop sending me these” notes. They think people will change their minds after they actually get the plastic.
- Torn up credit cards aren’t that unusual, apparently. There seems to be a solid connection between identity theft and methamphetamine addiction: meth users can stay awake for way over a day and are known to obsessively put together torn documents for the purpose of id thievery.
- Credit card history has it that in the 1960s, people were mailed unsolicited credit cards that were immediately usable, and this led to rampant crimes. Congress changed things in the 1970s to prevent the mailing of live cards and instead allowed for credit card applications to snake their way into our mailboxes, and that’s been the status quo ever since.
Given all that, I’m more paranoid than ever. But I’ve done a few things to try to feel more secure:
(1) I’ve acquired a new mailbox that has a lock in it.
(2) I’ve upgraded my shredder to the kind that minces paper into confetti (rather than strips). I’m sure hoping that my trusty Fellowes Cross-Cut shredder will hold up to all the paper I feed it.
(3) I shred anything that has our identity on it, such as a name or address. And I mean ANYTHING.
I hope that my small investment of more time and effort towards protecting our identities will keep our names safe. There’s certainly more that can be done in this regard, but for now, this is a start.
This post was based on this very interesting article at MSNBC’s The Red Tape Chronicles.
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