Chase thought I stole my own identity — and I still don’t have a credit card

Oct 10, 2019

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As one of the newest members of the TPG team and an aspiring credit card connoisseur, I couldn’t wait to begin accumulating and redeeming travel rewards. I’m a recent college graduate, thrust into the working world with only a credit card from a small hometown bank and a limited credit history, but I’m ready and eager to leap into the world of points and miles.

Like any novice TPG reader, I started by poring through our Beginner’s Guide to Points and Miles — a godsend for a newbie to the credit card game — and bookmarking our Best Starter Travel Rewards Cards.

I wanted to find the best credit card for a “big kid” starting his first job. Unsurprisingly, I settled on the Chase Freedom Unlimited, universally hailed as an excellent choice to hold that first slot in my wallet. It’s not flashy, but with a decent current sign-up bonus, cash back that can be converted into transferable Ultimate Rewards points when combined with another Chase card, and no annual fee, it was an easy choice. Oozing anxious optimism, I applied for my Freedom Unlimited from our TPG card review and waited for a hoped-for approval.

The first bad sign was an ominous “We’ll let you know our decision as soon as possible” email. It felt like a flashback to applying for college and something less than a warm welcome into the world of points and miles.

It turns out I was correct in my apprehension. I received a notice from Chase that my application had been declined because of a mismatch between the information I supplied on the form and the information the bank had on file. It recommended that I contact fraud verification services.

Even more peculiar was the way the rejection was delivered: I didn’t receive the rejection letter — my parents did. Because I moved from my hometown to my college town and then from my college town to my new city, my temporary address has changed a predictable number of times for a person my age and in my stage of life.  However, my permanent address has remained fixed at my childhood home of 18 years where my parents still reside.

Putting two and two together, I realized that Chase wasn’t recognizing that my “permanent” address identity and my “current” address identity were the same person. My Chase Freedom Unlimited application had been rejected because it appeared as if I was trying to masquerade … as myself.

I called fraud verification services, hoping that a verbal explanation and another look at the information on file could help clear things up. However, the ensuing 45-minute phone conversation was an exasperating test of patience. My straightforward questions were met with infuriatingly cryptic responses.

After providing my personal information and thoroughly explaining my address change, I was informed that I wasn’t allowed access to any information on file about me.  I hung up the phone with no answers, no future course of action and no credit card.

The TPG team reached out to Chase for comment, but got no comment.

Ultimately, I called my hometown bank just to confirm that there was nothing fishy on their end, and they assured me that there was no issue with my account. My drive to become a credit card expert is as strong as ever, but for now I’ll have to settle for accruing more credit history with my local bank before risking another hard pull on my credit.

I’m bummed that Chase has me pegged as another successfully thwarted identity theft. Turns out my experience with Chase so far has neither been free nor unlimited.

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