A new year often means updated credit and debit cards from your bank.
But if you get any new cards the next few weeks, be sure to check them carefully. What if it is a card you were not expecting?
Surprise Visa card
Ann Shepherd went out to her mailbox the other day and couldn't believe what she found inside.
"I opened up my mail and got a credit card that I hadn't applied for," she said.
Inside was an Amazon Chase Bank Visa card.
The only problem: She never requested one. So she called, and the agent said it appeared she had applied for it.
"They seemed to think that was a legitimate credit card, and I said no, I never applied, I never used their bank before. I worry that other credit cards might have been issued," she said.
Simple mistake...or ID theft?
The Better Business Bureau says if you ever receive a credit card or ATM card from a bank you don't do business with, then be very suspicious.
In her case, Shepherd may have inadvertently signed up for the Amazon card when making an Amazon purchase.
Chase Bank will only say it appeared to be a legitimate online application. But it has agreed to cancel the card.
However, the BBB's Sandra Guile says this could be a warning someone has been trying to open cards in your name. You just happened to get one of the cards at your home (they received the other ones at their address).
"It's a domino effect," she said. "Because once those credit cards start appearing in your mailbox, it’s going to continue on until they realize that person has caught on to it."
So the BBB says if you are sure you did not sign up for the credit card by accident....
Contact Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and check your credit report for other cards.
Tell them to put a fraud alert on your account.
Shepherd may have simply made a mistake when making an Amazon purchase, clicking an offer to "save money." But she doesn't recall doing that, and worries she could be an ID theft victim.
My advice? If this happens to you, don't just cut up and toss that new credit card.
Make sure you call and find out why they sent it to you, so you stay safe and don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). “Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). John Matarese reports on deals and scams so you Don't Waste Your Money. "Like" his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @JohnMatarese.