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We received the First Premier Bank Credit Card. It is a Master Card with a credit limit of $350 and $198 in fees. Now we don't remember filling out an application for this card, and it is addressed to our old address. However when I called to get info on it asked for the last 4 of the SSN which matched my wife's SSN.

Not to pester you with this (however if you want info on the deal I will be happy to provide you with as much as I can find out) is this the common approach for this credit card deal. Do they send out a valid looking credit card to trap you into activating it and then are able to charge you the fees or did we perhaps unknowingly fill out an application and use our old address.

I am confused on this, as we always fill out any credit card apps with our current info, this old address thing has me wondering. But still I am worried that if we just cut these up we will still get a bill each month for $200 at a bajillion percent interest compounded hourly.

Any help or info will be appreciated.


Cagey's reply:

You're right to be concerned that by activating the card, you might be assenting to the credit card agreement. At the same time, by not responding to this notice, you might discover that you had inadvertently signed up previously.

Under the Federal Truth in Lending Act, sending out unsolicited credit cards is illegal. But in recent years, some card issuers seem to have decided that credit cards that require activation are not covered by this law. These days, most credit cards require such activation, so this provision of the Truth in Lending Act doesn't seem to have much practical effect.

Although it's unclear how they came to send you this credit card, the worst thing you can do is nothing. This just leaves the matter unresolved. Instead, just call up the bank at 800-987-5521 and select the option indicating that you just received a credit card.

You'll need to enter your credit card number, but unless the message explicitly indicates that this is anything more than an inquiry, that's all it is. Hopefully, you'll get an opportunity to talk to somebody and find out what's going on.

My best guess is that they've sent you the credit card in response to a form you or your wife completed on the internet. These online applications are designed to elicit all the information needed for an application without making it clear that they will treat the form as an application, even though they've never told you the material terms of the offer.

Instead, they tell you that you're responsible for calling them on the phone if you want to cancel. This seems to be the gig of many credit cards that promote themselves heavily on the web. I can't explain why they have an old address, but the important thing is to not accept any claims they make that you're responsible for their charges. Instead, tell them that you repudiate their claim that you submitted any credit card application. This is your assertion that, regardless of what their computer records may show or any keystrokes you may actually have entered while connecting to their web site, it was not for the purpose of making a credit card application.

In case the customer service rep doesn't understand this term, feel free to explain it. But if they're uncooperative, send a notice of your repudiation to them. And since they participate in the BBB Care program, make sure you send the BBB a complaint as well as the FTC. But I'll be somewhat surprised if you have to go to those measures.

However you decide to do, please keep me posted on how this turns out. Thanks.

the Cagey Consumer

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