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Credit card mail mix-up

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Monday, January 23, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Did you hear the one about the lady who got another person's credit card in the mail? Twice?

Cindy Sullivan of Minneapolis received a credit card from U.S. Bank, but the name on the card belonged to the woman who lived in her house more than eight years ago. Fortunately for the woman whose name was on the card, Sullivan sent the card back to the issuer with a note explaining the mistake.

To Sullivan's surprise, the issuer mailed the card back again with a letter explaining that, after a bit of research, the bank was sure that the woman lived at that address. Which, of course, she does not.

The bank told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that it's investigating the matter and that these types of mix-ups are rare. They often occur, such as in Sullivan's case, because someone filled out an application and supplied false or inaccurate information.

This leads us to two after-school lessons. One, always make sure to call your credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions (along with the magazines you subscribe to) when you move to change your address. Also, file a change of address form with the United States Postal System, and have mail forwarded to your new address for a month or so. It's easy to do online or in a post office.

Second, pull your credit report from the three major credit reporting bureaus once every 12 months. You're entitled to it for free by federal law. Check for any inaccuracies on your report, including basic information such as your name, address and Social Security number. Many credit card companies generate their preapproved offers using credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

While this won't guarantee someone won't receive a credit card under your name, it will definitely reduce the likelihood. You can't always depend on honest and trustworthy people like Cindy Sullivan getting your credit card every time.

Has a similar situation ever happened to you? Tell me about it.

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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