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Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

Q. I recently received a credit card in the mail. I did not apply for the card, and I don’t want it.  How can the company send me a card without me applying for one in the first place?

A.  According to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) there are generally three reasons a credit card is issued to you:  in response to an oral or written request, in response to an application, or as a renewal or substitution for a credit card that you have already accepted. 

If none of these reasons apply to you, you need to contact the card issuer as soon as possible.  Do not call the activation phone number posted on the sticker on the front of the card.  Since these are usually automated systems, you may not have the option of speaking to a representative.  Rather, you should contact the number for customer service or the fraud department to discuss the reason you’ve received the card.

It’s possible that you’ve received a new card as a result of a merger or acquisition between credit card companies.  When the new company received your records, they automatically sent you a new card. If this is the case, you have the choice to activate the card or not, though your old card will no longer be valid.

Unfortunately, it’s also possible that someone has applied for the credit card in your name, which means you have become a victim of identity theft.  Given this possibility, it’s essential for you to contact the fraud department of the credit card company if you have received an unsolicited card.  If someone else has applied for credit in your name, you need to take immediate action and ask that the credit card company close or freeze the account(s).

Next, pull your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.  You will need to request all three of them if you believe you are a victim of identity theft.  If you have already pulled your free reports in the last 12 months, you will have to pay for them. Nevertheless, if you’re the victim of identity theft, you will want to pay for the reports so you have them in hand.

If you find additional accounts on your credit report that do not belong to you, you will need to contact those companies immediately. You will find contact information at the end of your report. You should also put a fraud alert on your credit reports, which you can do by contacting one of the credit reporting agencies.  Additionally, you will need to contact your bank or credit union to ensure that no one has tampered with your accounts.

After you’ve done all of this, you will need to fill out the online complaint form with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov. Print and save a copy of the form (affidavit) for yourself.  Also print out the FTC’s letter to law enforcement. 

Next, file a police report and ask for your own copy of it.  The FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and police report are our proof that someone has stolen your identity.

Do not ignore an unsolicited card. Instead, find out why you why you received the credit card and take swift action if it turns out that you have been a victim of identity theft.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.