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Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


Hidden Credit Available for the Taking

Jul 08

Are you really safe from identity theft when you close a credit card account?

With the ever-rising prices on goods and credit card interest rates going up, I am planning to limit the usage of my credit cards. Besides the need to limit my usage, I intend to close credit cards that I don’t actively use on a regular basis.  However, am I safe from identity theft after I close my credit cards?  Can an identity thief still have access to my credit limits after they have been shut down?

Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is yes. Your credit limit is still available after you have closed the card in case you choose to re-open the account in the future, leaving your credit susceptible to identity thieves.  If an identity thief has enough information about you, they can easily call your credit card company to have your account re-opened and a new card mailed to a fraudulent address. It’s that simple for identity thieves.

What can you do to protect yourself? Here are some steps to properly close a credit card account.

1. You can call the creditor directly or you can write a formal letter requesting the account be closed.  There is a plethora of “credit card closed request” letter examples online that you can use as a template.

2. If you call the creditor to close the account, make sure you write down the confirmation number, date, and the name of the customer service representative you spoke with.  Furthermore, make sure you close the call by requesting an affirmation letter be mailed to you.

3. If you prefer to close the account with a letter request, make sure you make a copy of it and mail it by certified mail with a return receipt.  Also, make sure you conclude the letter by requesting an affirmation letter be mailed to you

4. When you receive your affirmation letter, make sure it has the date the account was closed, the account number, a confirmation number, and your full name with your mailing address.  Having this information in the content of the letter is important in the event you happen to be a fraud victim after you have closed the account.  In addition, you can use the letter as proof when filing an identity theft police report.

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