Why exactly do I need to shred credit card solicitations?

There’s a lot of advice around to shred any credit card solicitations you get in the mail. The claim is that they present a risk for identity theft.

Well, I don’t see the big deal. There’s never any vital, secret information about me contained in the mail itself. They would still be relying on me to supply my SS#, birthday, etc. And if it’s my name and address someone is after, a moment’s thought reveals that someone would pretty much already know that if they found my trash can.

The way I see it, there’s no greater inherent risk in just tossing them in the trash than there is in anything else in life. Heck, we should all be more worried about credit card receipts at restaurants, where they usually leave the whole number right there for anyone to get.

So why all the hubbub about shredding them?

It’s pretty easy to get your social security number, etc. online if they’ve already got your name and address. If you’ve been preapproved for a credit card, all they have to do is go online, buy your social security number, fill out the forms, and they’ve definitely got a credit card that you don’t even know about, so it’s not like you’ll see the weird charges on your statement that month.

I always just try to rip them up enough that a thief couldn’t tape them back together and apply for the card in my name. And I try to put them in the wettest, smelliest part of the garbage, but that’s just because I’m vindictive toward thieves.

But that can easily happen regardless of whether I shred my mail or not. It’s not like credit card applications are hard to come by.

It just seems naive to think that you’re covering yourself by destroying mail solicitations. Can you really see a potential thief rending his garments and gnashing his teeth, screaming to the heavens “Why?! Why did John Smith shred this credit application from Capital One?!”

I think it’s more along the lines of locking your car doors. Any thief that really wants your car can get it, even if you lock your car doors. By locking them, you are discouraging the amateur thieves and convincing the pros to go look at someone elses car.

Shredding incoming credit card offers makes it a lot less likely that the neighborhood kid will just pluck it out of your garbage, and making it a little harder for the pros.

A good experiment would be to try to apply for a credit card with an application that had obviously been ripped and thrown away. Even better would be one that had clearly gone through a paper shredder and then taped and photocopied back into some semblance of readability.

I have little doubt that the card would be awarded.

And I agree with the OP. Shredding CC apps is just busywork in the guise of security. But I generally just fold them back up and put them in the return envelope. Supporting our postal service, one prepaid business reply at a time.

And there are plenty easier ways to get applications than digging through someone’s trash. Last summer, a friend of mine showed me the huge pile of other people’s mail he got. He lived in the last building of an apartment complex with a fairly high turnover rate. Any mail addressed to any apartment that didn’t match the names on the boxes just got shoved into his box at the end. :rolleyes:

I agree. But the idea isn’t to make it impossible for someone to apply for a credit card in my name (I doubt I could do that), but to make it harder, so they do it to somebody else instead.