Man Tears Up Credit Card Application. Fills It Out. Sends It In. Result: Card Approved!

By Will Chen. Last updated 10 June 2007. 10 comments

credit card trap

Go get a shredder immediately.

The mad scientist at tried a little experiment:

  1. Take a regular credit card application from Chase Mastercard.
  2. Tear it up into roughly 16 pieces.
  3. Tape it back together.
  4. Change the address on the application to ANOTHER address (his parent's mailbox).
  5. Put down his cell phone number as the contact number.
  6. Mail in the application (no stamp required, SCORE!)
  7. Wait a few weeks.
  8. Receive credit card in the mail.
  9. Post story on Internet. Scare consumers worldwide!

The best part is the fact that tearing up your application is suppose to be enough:

On the Chase Website about protecting your identity, I learned that I should tear up financial solicitations that I am not interested in....

I also checked the Federal Trade Commission website on protecting your identity.

They suggested that I "tear or shred" credit applications and other forms before discarding them.


How to Stop Receiving Credit Card Applications

You can opt out of receiving credit card applications by calling 1 888 5 OPT OUT (1 888 567 8688), or opt out online at

You can opt out of receiving preapproved credit offers by calling 1 888 5 OPT OUT (1 888 567 8688). Think carefully, though, before doing so. You will no longer receive offers from national credit card providers or lenders, limiting your access to such services to your local community. That vastly limits your access to services. (via Experian)

I'm touched that credit card companies are concerned about me no longer receiving offers from national credit card providers. Don't worry guys, if I'm ever stuck for credit I'll just fish out my neighbor's AMEX application from his garbage. Thanks.

Photo by Inkynobaka shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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Andrea Karim's picture

There is not now, nor will there ever be, a way to limit the number of people who want to give you credit. What kinds of "services" are going to be vastly limited to me if I stop receiving offers from Chase?

"You will no longer receive offers from national credit card providers or lenders, limiting your access to such services to your local community. That vastly limits your access to services."

NATIONAL credit card providers or lenders. LOCAL community. Are they saying that I'm doing bad things to my community by not receiving junk mail from American Express? Does not having "IMPORTANT TIME-SENSITIVE" mortgage insurance shoved at me do bad things to my local school? Do they mean that I won't receive those "Welcome to the neighborhood" postcards from local dentists? What do you mean, Experian? Huh?

Will Chen's picture

or yours?

Andrea Karim's picture

Am I reading the warning wrong? Or is Experian, an agency that monitors your credit and helps destroy your life when you do badly, telling you to get an many credit offers as possible for your community? It could be entirely true that I'm misreading - Enlgish is not my first language. That would be the little-known language known as Fabulous.

Will Chen's picture

your first name was Fabulous.

It is pretty weird to trust Experian to safeguard your financial information when most of their income comes from the credit card companies.

Chris Johnson's picture

Or does anyone else feel the need to shred everything? Anything that comes in my mail goes to the shredder instead of the trash, envelopes and all. Thanks for the article, it makes me feel like my paranoia is justified!

Lynn Truong's picture

everyone should get a free copy of your credit report (hassle free, without having to cancel membership 30 days later) from each of the 3 credit agencies once a year. this means that about every 4 months you can check your credit report for strange activity. my friend just found a weird address added to hers!

don't go to the credit report sites directly. go through

"This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion."

Some jackass broke into my home and stole my passport and social security card, so i have major reasons to be paranoid.

Will Chen's picture

I get very paranoid about shredding all my stuff too. Sometimes when I go to the mailbox I'm reminded of that scene in L.A. Story where Steve Martin just puts his trash can right underneath the mail slot so the mail pouring in just goes straight into oblivion.

Lynn that's terrible! When did this happen?

Guest's picture

I too shred EVERYTHING. I just have a regular one. But I will soon be getting a cross-hatch one. I hope everyone has one in their home. I don't trust just tearing them up and throwing them away anymore.

I have a few friends that have had their identities stolen (one by his own cousin claiming to be his wife!) I have Identity Theft Protection and Monitoring. I get an alert immediately for anything that pops up on my credit report. Luckily nothing has been false (I do get to see when my CC companies take a look at my credit report in the attempt to raise my APR and other fees.)

It's a great way to monitor what's going on with your information and because of the protection part, if something happens, I don't have to do all the calling and letter writing to get my identity back to where it's supposed to be. If I made my credit background crappy, I know they will bring it back to it's original crappy state :)

Will Chen's picture

They must have some interesting family reunions. =)

Thanks for the tips on the cross-hatch shredder. I still have a pretty old model and I'm looking to upgrade!

Guest's picture

I don't get it. just because it has my name on it.. they can't expect me to pay, can they? Not if whoever filled it out is clearly some random person with a different address. it's not like it has my social on it.
If they could, wouldn't credit card companies just SAY someone filled a card out in your name?