Back in October I received a letter from Chase in the mail saying that they could not process my request for an Amazon.com Visa card because I already had one. I monitor my credit and hadn't seen anything come up, so I figured it was an anomaly and ignored it. Then I received another identical letter (except for the reference number) in December which certainly raised an eyebrow, but I was busy with the holidays and my credit monitoring still hadn't shown anything, so I set it aside.
Then we received a letter addressed to my wife saying that her application for an Amazon.com Visa was not approved because she needed to confirm information including her DOB and provide proof of billing address. (She does not have an Amazon.com card and is not an authorized user on mine). That certainly got my attention, so I called Chase and they would not talk about my wife's application, but they basically said someone was trying to open accounts in my name and I should put a freeze on my credit.
I pulled my credit reports from all 3 agencies and did not find anything amiss. We are in the process of buying a new house and I did not want to freeze my credit and cause issues there, but I continue to monitor for activity. I've asked my wife to pull her credit reports, but she works at her own pace
I contacted Amazon - from what I can tell the only place you can apply for an Amazon Visa is through their website, even the Chase page about it redirects to Amazon to apply. I told them we had received 3 or 4 of these notices and that someone seems to be trying to fraudulently apply for the cards through their site. Their response was:
"We have contacted our security department about your Amazon.com account and do not see any recent/suspicious activity. Your account security has not been compromised in any way. All transactions made on our secure server at Amazon.com are safe."
and then some generic stuff about how they use SSL, blah blah blah. So no help there. We both changed our Amazon passwords just in case, but I do not think it is going through my account since I would probably get emails about the application. I imagine it is going through a fraudulent account(s).
I just received another denial letter from Chase again today. I'm just wondering if anyone else is having this issue, and if there is anything else that I can do, preferably something that would put an end to it?
Just because you can only apply through the Amazon page doesn't mean Amazon knows anything about the applications. I would think it still goes back to Chase somehow. You said Chase won't tell you anything about it or do anything by phone, but I would send a paper letter to see if they will respond that way.
I've been having this issue as well. In August, I received a denial letter for a Chase Amazon stating that I already had one and the last 4 digits listed matched my Amazon card. The weird thing is it came to my parent's address and I haven't lived there in 8 years. I've had my Chase card longer than that so my parent's address was on file with them at one time but it is no longer. I took the same steps that you did, called Chase, they confirmed that someone was applying for the card in my name and to file a 90 day fraud alert with the credit bureaus. I too did not see any hard inquiries on Credit Karma or on the credit report I received when I filed the fraud alert.
Well the fraud alert ended in November, and since then I've received 3 more letters in December. It's the exact same letter with different dates and different reference numbers. I called Chase again to confirm and they saw all 3 applications in their system, but refused to give me any information. I checked with the rep that it was my social security # that they were using to apply, and she did confirm that. I called back again and confirmed with a different rep and they also said it my was social security #. They did give me a phone number that my local law enforcement could call to request copies of the application, but I have a feeling it's going to be all my information with a throwaway e-mail address. My steps this time were to file the police report that is needed to file the extended fraud alert with the credit bureaus.
With some Google searching in August, I was able to find a forum with a post that stated this was an issue in Illinois (I'm in Maryland though) and detailed the scam exactly as I have experienced. In December, I also found a forum post on Amazon forums with people experiencing the same issues, but if they didn't have the card, they wound up getting the card in the mail instead of the denial letter. One of the posts stated that scammers could be applying for the card just for the $50 instant gift card bonus.
interesting ... so best defense would seem, to get the Amazon card yourself? That way .. any fraudulent application wont be approved.
They really should start putting a security pin along with SS# ... a pin that you can change if compromised. Otherwise, just about anyone can get hold of you SS# somehow, and keep applying for cards/lonas.
1. The reason OP and bhaines23 did not find hard pulls on their report is because Chase's or Amazon 's fraud detection system kicks in before Chase pulls the credit report.
2. It seems as fraudster's goal here is to obtain the Amazon gift card bonus provided after successful application.
3. OP's and his spouse identification information were compromised and could potentially be used in other fraudulent schemes - credit freeze is recommended in such cases. Also it is advisable to monitor closely activity on checking/saving accounts.
4. Identities are being sold in bulk on dark web for $5-$20, hence the above schemes are scalable and do not even require the US presence. In most cases identity info will include accurate SSN, Name, DOB and address at a specific point in time(hence not necessary current)
5. Most common ways, identities are obtained by hackers are: - Malware on personal devices - Online vendor/bank/social media breaches (even when these do not always have identification info stored - the credentials are useful since a lot of people reuse username and passwords) - email provider breaches (see news on yahoo.com) - email accounts are being searched for tax or other documents that might contain identification info
I agree with cuant the likely reason there are no hard pulls is because they noticed I already had a card before they got to that step. FWIW, when notified, Chase said they would remove the inquiry, but there was none to remove. As mentioned, we have not checked my wife's credit yet (I just sent her an email to make it a priority), so there could be hard pulls on hers - in fact her credit score was lower than expected when we applied for the mortgage and this could play a part.
I find the theory that they are only looking for the gift cards and are likely not even in the country both disturbing and maybe a little comforting in that maybe they will not try to open large accounts and charge them up.
This whole SSN thing has got to change, too easy for people to get ahold of it. I've had to give it to so many different people during this house-buying exercise, from mortgage people to insurance agents. Any one of them could be harvesting the information. Few of these people have systems set up for securely exchanging files. When I've told them I am uncomfortable sending SSN via email on paperwork and insist on encrypting the PDFs I send, they turn around and send stuff back in the clear. Its all completely ridiculous. My wife uses Yahoo for email and we all know about their problems.
Anyways, looks like the only way forward is to lock up our credit files but we'll need to wait a few weeks until the mortgage is issued. I appreciate the information, this is all eye-opening.
Also, with the Amazon Chase card being 5% CB and metal, there's one more reason to have it in your wallet.
I will say my friend has all of his accounts through Chase and is constantly dealing with Identity Theft. He has a Chase CC, Chase Bank accounts and Savings accounts. I only have a Chase account for the bonuses and keep all my passwords different thanks to KeePass. Since Chase is so big (both customer base wise and employee wise) there's a lot at stake...
He even had someone attempt to open a new account in his name IN A BRANCH. He had to go to his local branch along with multiple forms of ID just to fix it. He obviously has all his credit frozen due to all the problems.
FWIW, I pay my Amazon Rewards Visa payment by phone, using the number on the back of the card. The introductory prompt isn't generic but specifically references that is Amazon Reward Visa provided by Chase. The few times I've asked for an operator, it certainly sounds like US based support.
I've dealt with Disney Visa and the United ones. Both call centers had US based reps. Same as Discover, though they do promote their reps are in the US. Citi on the other hand has been off shore for a long time.
I think you should take the letters to your local police department and report a possible identity theft. They will give you a case number. With that case number you can get a free 7-year "fraud alert" (different from a "freeze") at all three credit reporting agencies. With a fraud alert, a financial institution has to contact you before it will issue credit. That means that they will call your phone before they issue a credit card, mortgage, etc., to verify that you actually requested it.
Once your identity has been stolen, it can never be un-stolen...your information is out there and you may be subject to fraudulent attempts forever. If you don't freeze or fraud-alert your credit information, one of these days the bad guys are likely to succeed.
Thanks for that austex! That will be my plan once my mortgage closes.
As a follow up, my wife just got back in town and we looked at her credit reports. There is indeed a matching inquiry from Chase on her credit report. There are also two inquiries from Citi from earlier, and two from a River Valley Bank over a year ago that do not match up to anything we know of. Further, in the list of addresses associated with the account are two addresses in Tampa and Miami and she has never lived in Florida. Police department it is!
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