like many of you, I discard my credit card statements. I noticed that the credit card companies include your card number in the statement. Since i have noticed this I am skeptical in simply throwing the statement in the garbage. isnt this info dangerous in the sense of someone intercepting my statement in the mail or picking through the garbage? Why is it like this?
Because a statement of account needs to identify the account to which it relates. What if you had two credit cards from the same bank? That’s not uncommon.
Among other reasons, so that those with several cards can tell which card the statement is for; so that you can write the account number on your check without going to your wallet; so that you can verify that it’s a statement for your account.
Well, it’s your account number, too, not just the number on your card. That’s how they credit your payments. There may be 100 “Johnnyt27s” out there, but not one who has the same credit card/account number.`
I’m sure they could set up account numbers for their customers which differ from the credit card numbers, but I’m sure they’re afraid that would prove too confusing.
Secondly, it’s a handy reference for when you’re calling to ask a question about your account.
Throwing it in the trash is about as risky as being on your porch during a lightning storm. Is it possible you’ll be struck? Yes. Is it likely? No.
The credit card companies have done an admirable job in making Americans paranoid about their credit cards being stolen. (Witness the myriad commercials in which the thieves buy boats and leather bustiers on others’ cards.) While these things do happen, it’s worse for the credit card company than for the consumer.
Last week, I called my credit card company to make sure a change of adress had gone through. At the end of the call, the operator said, “May I ask why you have not activated your Credit Protection Insurance?”
I was a bit put off by the way the question was put, which was obviously designed to elicit a weak, “Well, I . . . uh . . . I don’t know . . .” which would then give the opening for a sales pitch which might result in pushing the customer into purchasing the service.
So I answered a little more boldly than I might have if approached in another fashion. “Well, I’ll tell you why. First of all, I’m aware of my rights as a consumer, vis a vis that I cannot be legally held liable for more than fifty dollars worth of fraudulent charges. Am I right?”
“Uh, I , uh–” the operater replied succintly.
“To continue, the service you operate costs $90 per year, correct?”
The operator knew this one. “Yes, but you also–”
I cut her off, saying “But doesn’t that mean that I would have to have my card stolen more than twice in one year and be held to the maximum each time before your service would save me money? I’ve had one of your cards for almost twenty years now, and it’s not been stolen in that entire time.”
“Er, now, uhm, I . . .” she told me.
“I’m sorry, I’m just not interested.”
Shred the statements if it makes you feel better, but I really wouldn’t worry about it too much. It takes a really dedicated theif to dig through the trash, and if they’re doing that, they’re not looking for your card number-- they’re looking for social security numbers and the like so they can steal your identity. (Which is another matter entirely.)
Having your card number stolen is a bit of a pain, but usually not very serious. You can prove that you didn’t make the purchases, so you’re not going to be paying for a new yacht. The law’s on your side with this one.
Sure, but identity theft is not an urban legend, either. There are enough stories of folks whose credit ratings have been trashed and bank accounts drained from impartial sources to make the point. And spending $20 on a shredder and using it on sensitive mail is not an unreasonable response, IMO.
We got a shredder on sale at a stationary store for about $20. It sits permananetly on top of the recycle bin in the home office.
Actually, it’s the merchants, not the credit card companies that eat losses like this. If I refuse to pay a charge against my card, the card issuer turn around and denies payment to the merchant.
It is all one and the same - identity theft. In our neighborhood it takes very little time digging through the trash to find scads of bank statements, credit card statements, utility bills, etc., that are tossed out intact.
I think Lissa was specifically talking about credit card fraud. It’s very difficult to do without the physical card. With only the number you cannot process a charge against you. You’d need the expiry date and any online orders must (usually, at least with the merchants I’ve used) be sent to the address on the credit card.
Also, many cards (and web sites) ask for the 3 or 4 “extra” numbers on the back of the card. These numbers are not on the bill.
Identy theft is a much more serious issue but again, you’d have to do something silly like discard your tax papers or something to get the info required (at least if you’re routing through trash).
The account number are very sueful to those of us who have several credit cards. I pay my bills on break at work, and I don’t carry all my cards along with me. Sometimes i’ll have a question or a dispute, and i’ll need the account number to get it resolved.
We got a shredder from my parents for our first (paper) wedding anniversary Now I shred all the credit card and utility bills after I pay them.
As a merchant I can tell you it’s actually quite easy to buy something without a card. As for the address, sometimes the machine will ask for it, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, you can bypass it, even if you enter the wrong info, it just tells you it’s the wrong info, that’s all, it won’t stop the transaction. As for the CID#, again, if you enter it wrong or not at all it won’t stop the transaction, it’ll just let you know that it’s wrong (which is a common problem as they get rubbed off pretty easily. In fact, if you don’t enter it, our machine will ask why, one of the options is “unreadable”). Even for the expiration date. I know for a fact that (at least on some machines with some merchant services) just entering in ANY date in the future will be just fine. When it comes down to it. CC Fraud isn’t that hard to commit (I’m not saying get away with it, it’s just not that hard to commit to begin with).
In my personal (ugly) experience, identity theft is like kidnapping and rape in that people think of it as something strangers do but you should be more worried about it being people you know. My dad’s had thousands and thousands stolen by my adoptive step-brother, who he won’t take to court. (The guy has the same name, which isn’t very helpful either.) I’m not really worried that some stranger will go digging through my trash looking for my statements - but I do shred some things because somebody else might, somebody more purposeful.