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You Might End Up With A New Credit Card Even When You Didn’t Ask For One

Sam's Club sent out a new Discover Card because an account holder didn't opt out.Watch out for those credit card solicitations in the mail. There might be more to them than you think.

According to a news report out of Columbus, Ohio, Brian VanVoorhis was surprised to find a Sam’s Club Discover Card with his name on it in the mail.

He’s a Sam’s Club member, and he has an existing charge account with the warehouse store, but he hadn’t applied for the Discover credit card.

In fact, he told WBNS-TV that he had declined repeated offers for the card.

When VanVoorhis called to complain, he was told he received the card because he failed to opt out when they sent him a notice in the mail, a notice VanVoorhis says he probably threw away because it looked like just another solicitation.

“I think they’re trying to take advantage of a lot of folks who would most likely say: ‘Gee, I’ve got the card now. Might as well use it and spend it,’  ” VanVoorhis told the TV station.

Kathleen Keest, senior policy counsel with the Center for Responsible Lending, called the move by Sam’s Club deceptive and said it skates along a fine line of a law banning unsolicited credit cards.

The federal Truth In Lending Act says a credit card can only be issued in response to an oral or written request for a card application, or as a renewal or substitute for an accepted credit card.

Sam’s apparently is treating this as a substitute card.

Here’s the company’s defense, according to the TV report:

“However, because of the opt-out opportunity and VanVoorhis’ status as a Sam’s Club account-holder, the company is confident it did not run afoul of the federal prohibition against the issuance of unsolicited credit cards, (Sam’s Club spokeswoman Carrie) Foster said.”

So, what can you do?

First: Open and read absolutely everything a credit card company sends you. If you’re a member of a customer rewards program, check all that mail, too. You won’t know if the opt-out will come under the card issuer’s name or your favorite club, drug or grocery store.

Second: Opt out of all prescreened credit card offers at Optoutprescreen.com. This will stop you from getting prescreened credit card offers from companies with which you do not have credit card accounts (if, for example, you have a Chase credit card, you will still get offers from Chase).

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Comments (3)
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3 Existing Comments
  1. Owen C said:
    on December 20th at 08:48 am

    This is pretty outrageous. Never knew substitute cards could be foisted on consumers without their consent.

  2. Howard said:
    on December 21st at 05:03 pm

    My wife just received an unsolicited offer from Victoria’s Secret thru the mail a credit card that only requires her to call up to activate the card. Same deceptive scheme I think.

  3. Earl said:
    on December 21st at 10:52 pm

    The relationships between companies and credit card companies is becoming very cozy. That is the problem. I had an antivirus company renew my subscription when I hadn’t even updated an expired credit card. I think you are going to see more and more of these shenanigans because it is becoming apparent that these symbiotic relationships are lucrative to everyone but the consumer.