I’m not one to believe in fate or signs, but it’s hard to not believe that something is conspiring against me in trying to do my credit card arbitrage plan. If I can’t get a credit card to begin with, it’s just not going to end up well. The problems I’ve had with them go back over a month now and it’s taken me more than 5 separate calls to realize that it’s not going happen.
Their first call was pretty quick and to the point. They couldn’t verify my phone number to my new address and they couldn’t verify my employment. It makes sense, since I picked up the phone (Vonage) and just moved across the country. This is one of the reasons why people get Internet phones to begin with. Even though I update the address with Vonage, it doesn’t seem to get updated in the public records.
Verifying my employment should have been easy. It’s simply giving my company’s phone number to Discover and letting look it up in their records. Well either their records are incomplete or my company didn’t register the phone number under their current name, because it doesn’t verify. Considering that my company is a start up in Silicon Valley, with about 35 people, I’m not surprised.
I was told that the solution to both problems was to fax a recent pay stub. I’m thinking, “This is fantastic. I even get to prove that my income is what I say it is and it’s not just me checking a box on an application. Surely, this will be bullet proof.” I faxed the pay stub and called them up to make sure they got it. They did and said they’d have a ruling on it, within a couple of days. I waited two weeks for my new credit card to show up. Perhaps, I should have checked back, but I had other things going on. The card never came.
It’s time for another call to find out what the status is. I made this on Friday of last week. It seems my application has been archived since it’s been over a month since I originally applied. The person pulls it out of the archives, and says she’ll look at it and I should call back tomorrow. I remind her that it’s Saturday, and she tells me that they’ll still be open, but that I need to call a different number. I’m really glad that I reminded her it was Saturday.
Saturday morning comes and it’s time to make that call. After the usual verification of 5 pieces of information (their 15-digit reference number, my name, date of birth, address, mother’s maiden name), we can finally discuss the issue. After explaining the issue from the beginning (I guess they don’t believe in either take or reading account notes), she sees the pay stub and says that it works for the employment verification, but since it doesn’t have my address on it, it won’t work for that. Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:
Me: What do I need for that verification?
Discover: A bank statement or utility bill with your name and address on it.
Me: I don’t have a utility bill. I’ve paid it and shredded it. Do you have an e-mail address where I can forward a PDF of my bank statement?
Discover: Umm, no you can not do that.
Me: I have electronic statements, so I’ll just print off a copy and fax it in.
Discover: Umm, we can’t take something that comes from a printer.
Me: (Thinking, “They’d never know the difference anyway, but I’m going to see how far I can take this…”) So what would you suggest then?
Discover: We’d recommend that you go to your bank and have them print out a copy.
Me: (Wondering, “Should I claim that my bank doesn’t have branches – like my fiancee’s, USAA?”) You are serious about this. It would have been nice if you could have mentioned it in any of the previous 5 phone calls.
It went on a little longer, but she did mention that my address is verified on my credit report. However, since I haven’t lived here “long enough” (a timespan that is a Discover secret she couldn’t disclose), it doesn’t count. In the end, she was just trying to prevent identity theft. It’s a noble goal, but at what point is too much. An identity thief would have to:
- Verify my mother’s maiden name and social security number (I used that on other calls where I didn’t have my reference number handy) as well as my date of birth. This isn’t the hardest thing to do, but it’s certainly not common.
- Change my address on my credit report. I’ve heard of mistakes on a credit report before, but I don’t know if they’ve gotten an address wrong.
- Obtain my most recent pay stub.
I can’t believe they’d make it so difficult, especially when they send me no fewer than 4 applications a month in the mail. In the future I should spend more time reading these credit card reviews.