CREDIT CARD SOLICITATIONS GO UNDERGROUND
If your income is less than $100,000 annually, you received 26 percent less credit card offers in 2008, compared to 2007. A prime example of how the junk mail industry manipulates your personal data to maneuver consumers to respond the way they want them to. According to Mintel Comperemedia, who does research for junk mailers, announcing in a ConsumerAffairs report, funds for lending were down, and with the credit card companies already losing on current loans—apparently from those with incomes less than $100,000—they cut mailings back significantly.
Does that halt the barrage on our mailboxes? Not really. They just found another surrogate: businesses you are already dealing with that veil the solicitation under their name, hoping you will make the assumption they endorse the credit card offer. Of course, the business gets a cut from each application returned.
It goes like this. Holland America Line’s headline exclaims: “Presenting the Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card…Your next cruise is closer than you think.” We are cruisers but we have never been on Holland America, so why would I feel any relationship toward them. This is relationship marketing, or affinity, or third party, meaning the company uses their relationship with the customer to sell you something they have absolutely no control over if something goes wrong.
On the other hand, we have been on Princess Cruises, from which we have received two offers in the last couple of weeks. U.S. Airways has hit us twice in the same period of time, and the list goes on. This has been going on in junk mail for at least 35 years, and in bad economic times can be a boon to both of the businesses involved. By sharing the cost of the mailing, or riding piggyback in the company’s regular mail, everyone wins, except the consumer.
I say that because a 2009 survey just released by Javelin Strategy & Research says that 33 percent of the respondents reported that new credit card accounts were opened fraudulently in their name in 2008. That’s an increase of 27 percent over 2007. It only takes the crooks a few minutes on the underground Internet to buy your personal information like Social Security, date of birth, etc., and they are on their way.
You may eventually prove to the credit card provider that you weren’t the bad guys, but you will have a much larger battle convincing the three credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, to correct your credit history, especially Experian. As an example, the average resolution time to fix your credit in 2008 was 30 hours, up from 26 in 2007.
In the near future I am going to review the complete Javelin 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report. Here’s a preview of what they found. Identity fraud victims increased 22 percent to 9.9 million in 2008. Economic downturn historically results in increased domestic fraud. Traditional access to private data continues to be commonplace (emphasis added by me). For the consumer version—which I highly recommend reading for some great insights into preventing or dealing with ID theft—go here.