A guy named Rob Cockerham tore up a credit card application from Chase into small pieces and taped them back together to see if Chase would accept it and issue a card. Just to make things even more fun, he changed the address and phone number -- and the phone was a cell phone, just what an identity thief would use. A few weeks later his credit card arrived at his father's house, all ready to use. He whipped out his cell phone and activated it, and there you go. [facepalm]
Chase's response to this wasn't at all reassuring. It's pretty clear that they have no interest in using even basic common sense to check out a suspicious looking application
Cockerham's web site where he documented his little test is here. A web article on the subject by Bob Sullivan, who covers web scams and consumer fraud for MSNBC, is here. He has a few more interesting tidbits, like this:
"Don't think the ripped-up application scenario is far-fetched. While I was researching the book "Your Evil Twin: Behind the Identity Theft Epidemic," many police officers in the western half of the United States told me there is a tight connection between identity theft and methamphetamine addiction. Meth addicts, who can stay awake for 30 hours or more, have been known to obsessively stitch together shredded documents to commit crimes."
Nice. So even shredding a credit card application or other financial documents won't necessarily protect you, despite the fact that we're told to "tear up" such documents to protect ourselves. (That's the advice Chase itself gives on its web site -- see number 8 on the list here.) [eyeroll] Got a fireplace?
The husband and I have both registered with OptOutPrescreen.com to let companies know we don't want unsolicited credit or insurance offers. To make this permanent you have to print out and mail in a form -- filling out the online form is temporary, to get things rolling until they receive the paper form with your signature. And it's not perfect -- it only affects companies which do business with Equifax, Experian, Innovis or TransUnion, and it won't stop offers which are in the pipeline; you'll keep getting offers for several weeks at least. But it'll eventually stop most of the offers clogging your mailbox. I recommend everyone do this.