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Ask Creditnet: This Credit Card Isn't Mine - What Should I Do?

Dear Creditnet: I just pulled my credit report and found out I have a credit card for $1,000, but I never applied for this card. What should I do?

Answer: Don't panic. Your first reaction may be to freak out and assume someone has illegally opened a credit card in your name. And while this could be the case, you should take a few minutes do a little more groundwork before assuming you've become a victim of identity theft. Is it possible you could be listed as an authorized user on someone's credit card? Perhaps a parent, spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend? If so, the account may still show up on your credit reports even though you've never actually applied for the credit card yourself.

Take a closer look at your credit reports and you might be surprised to find a reference to you as an authorized user. Likewise, is it possible you actually applied for a credit card offer without realizing it? Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit when consumers sign up for promotional deals like "no-interest" financing on furniture or 20 percent off a purchase from their favorite retailer.

You may have thought you were just getting a good deal, but in reality you were signing up for a credit card. Retail credit cards can often show up on your credit reports under strange names you don't recognize as well. For example, GEMB (GE Money Bank) handles a lot of credit card programs for well-known retailers, so if you don't recognize the name of the creditor, try Googling it or calling the number listed on the credit report to see if there's a connection you're missing. Now, if you've answered these questions and you still have reason to believe there's absolutely no way this card is yours, it's time to take action.

Call your credit card company to report the fraud and cancel the card, contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and proceed with formally disputing the account as well. If the credit card is truly not yours, it needs to be officially removed from all your credit reports.
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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past twenty years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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Laura Morton's picture

Call the credit card company and have the card canceled. If a card was issued to you and you do not have it in your hands, assume that it was intercepted, and some crook is about to go shopping on your dime.
If you wait and the card is maxed out, you will have a harder time proving your case.
And if the card does arrive and you want to keep it, check the balance, and call the card company. Crooks are known to put some transactions on the cards, say $400 or $500, then put the card back in the mail. They are not sure what the limit.