Be careful with credit cards you're no longer using

Published On: Jul 01 2013 09:09:47 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 02 2013 07:45:00 AM EDT

U.S. postal inspectors are warning consumers that those credit cards you still have open, but no longer use, are not off limits to con artists.  In fact, dormant accounts might be the most susceptible to fraud.

Inspectors point to one case in particular where a credit card scam cost victims more than $500,000.  It started with one bad credit card company employee.

“She knew that these were dormant accounts which the businesses had lost track of, so she would go in manipulate the account,” explained Postal Inspector Mona Hernandez. 

The employee would create new credit cards based on the dormant account and ask accomplices to use the cards. 

“Multiple contractors were arrested in this case, many of them were recruited as the runners to purchase equipment that was used for the purposes of building materials,” Hernandez explained.

The contractors would buy construction equipment and either sell it or use it on projects.  In all, there were 50 victims.  Postal Inspectors caught the mastermind behind the scheme.

“She ended up confessing to compromising 30-40 dormant accounts,” said Hernandez. 

Hernandez has some advice for consumers.

“This is something that can affect anyone not just businesses," she said. "If they have accounts that are dormant or unused they have to get those closed.”

Postal Inspectors also recommend checking your credit report, which may indicate any unused or dormant accounts in your name.  

Everyone is entitled to  one free credit report every year with each of the three credit reporting agencies. The Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida  recommends the website AnnualCreditReport.com.  It has step-by-step instructions and links to all three credit bureaus.

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