February 12, 2008|By DAN THANH DANG
Vivikka Molldrem of Edgewater was abashed to acquisition a Wal-Mart Discover Agenda in her name sitting in her home mailbox aftermost month. All she had to do to actuate the $1,000 acclaim absolute agenda was alarm a toll-free number.
“I accept never shopped at Wal-Mart, accept never endemic a Discover Card, and accept never requested a Discover Card,” Molldrem said. “I get acclaim agenda offers assorted times a week, and I usually aloof bandy them in the debris after reviewing them carefully. This one looked like a archetypal acclaim agenda offer, but my bedmate opened it up while I was out of boondocks and to his shock, it independent a absolutely anatomic card.”
Tossing a absolutely anatomic agenda out could betrayal the couple, Molldrem said, to anyone acrimonious through the debris and activating the card.
Wondering how the aggregation could get her name and why it would betrayal bodies to aegis risks, Molldrem said the brace alleged the chump annual cardinal accustomed on the aback of the card. Molldrem said she was told that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. purchased the now-long-gone Montgomery Ward’s abundance agenda annual and issued the new Discover cards to bodies on that list.
Molldrem did own a Ward agenda years ago, but she has no absorption in owning a Wal-Mart Discover Card, she said.
Is it acknowledged for a aggregation to accelerate you an unsolicited acclaim agenda in the mail, she wondered? And who would she alarm to abode a complaint?
There’s no simple acknowledgment for either question.
First, I alleged Wal-Mart to analyze about the Discover cards. But a Wal-Mart agent said I should alarm Discover. Back I alleged up Leslie Beyer, a agent for the Discover Network, she said I should alarm GE Money. Turns out, the Wal-Mart Discover Agenda is issued by GE Money, which acclimated to be GE Consumer Finances.
Before I got a adventitious to allege with GE Money, I apparent that in 2001 a Wal-Mart agent had said Wal-Mart acclaim cards were actuality beatific to barter who ahead captivated accounts with Montgomery Ward. At the time, the agent said the accomplishment was “an attack to renew” the old Ward cards.
A GE Money agent said it was absurd the aggregation would accelerate a agenda to a chump who did not appeal it, but behindhand of whether GE Money, Wal-Mart or Discover was responsible, Molldrem has some rights.
The federal Truth in Lending Act does prohibit companies from sending cards to consumers after their request, but (and this is a big but) there are loopholes.
“What can appear is back a aggregation buys addition company, they can adjudge to about-face acclaim agenda providers or they can renew a acclaim agenda list,” said Linda Sherry, administrator of civic priorities for advancement accumulation Consumer Action. “They’re never declared to accelerate you a agenda you didn’t request, but they can alter your agenda with addition card.”
As an example, Citigroup afresh acquired the acclaim casework analysis of Macy’s and began replacing abeyant acclaim accounts of added than 3 actor Macy’s cardholders with Citi MasterCards. Many consumers were not admiring to acquisition out that their acclaim array could accept taken a hit if they canceled the agenda – which they didn’t ask for in the aboriginal abode – back they were about closing an old, but still open, band of credit.
“It appears to be legal,” Sherry said. “But the basal band is, it’s not a acceptable practice. And it absolutely doesn’t accomplish a aggregation attending good. What happens back you affair these cards to an old address? Bodies move.”
Chi Chi Wu, agents advocate with the Boston-based Civic Consumer Law Center, alleged the convenance “questionable.”
“Creditors accept exploited the artifice to do added and added things like flipping abundance cards to accepted purpose cards. The aboriginal absorbed of the law was to anticipate these actual situations,” Wu said. “They say they `renewed’ cards, but no one was application these cards at the time. I’d absolutely say it’s questionable.”
Molldrem should analysis her acclaim report, Sherry said, because alike admitting the agenda wasn’t activated, that does not beggarly the annual is closed.
To abate the bulk of unsolicited acclaim agenda offers you accept in the mail, acquaintance the three above acclaim bureaus by calling 888-567-8688 to opt out of the preapproved acclaim lists they advertise to companies.
You can additionally accuse to any of the federal regulators that baby-sit banks and accounts companies. In this accurate case, GE Money is adapted by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which is a allotment of the Department of the Treasury. You should additionally address to the Federal Reserve, Wu said.
Reach Consuming Interests by e-mail at consuminginterests @baltsun.com or by buzz at 410-332-6151.
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