The Most Important Opt-Out to Prevent Identity Theft

by Tom Fragala

I just found out I was victimized by ID theft again. The same MO: stolen “convenience” checks from my mailbox. This time it was convenience checks for my Citibank credit card, similar to the Wells Fargo convenience checks on my home equity line which were used fraudulently (and neither of which I asked to have sent to me). Again, these are not pre-screened credit offers, they are from banks I already have accounts with. (To make it worse, the convenience checks probably have your actual account and/or routing numbers, make fraud incredibly easy).

It occurred to me that with all the noise about different opt-out methods, by far the most important one to do is call your existing bank, credit union or card issuer and ask them to opt you out of all marketing offers, including (especially) any promo or convenience checks. Unless of course you want to receive marketing offers from your existing bank, which some folks legitimately do. All financial institutions must comply by sending you annual disclosures with ways you can opt-out. Do not ignore these.

Probably the best time to opt out is when you open a new account. Regardless, I urge you, the next time you have a few minutes, grab your credit cards, turn them over and call customer service. (Same thing with your bank statements.) Ask them to remove you from all marketing lists—including for any “affiliates.”  Oh, and if you ever order additional or replacement cards or accounts, make sure you opt-out again.

Someone in the know recently told me that at one point a few years ago, Capital One accounted for 10% of ALL mail sent via the US Postal Service. Think about that for one second. 10% of all postal mail in the United States. I also heard that criminals would steal entire racks with 1,000 envelopes being sent to consumers and hand them over to organized crime or gangs of thieves.

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One Response to “The Most Important Opt-Out to Prevent Identity Theft”

  1. Aaron Wakling said, on January 20th, 2009 at 2:16 am

    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

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