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The bank sent me a credit card I did not request. Isn’t this against the law and what should I do?

The Truth in Lending Act prohibits a bank from issuing credit cards except

  • in response to an oral or written request or application for the card, or
  • as a renewal of, or substitute for, an accepted credit card.

This means that, while banks may not issue new, unsolicited credit cards, they may, for example, issue replacement cards when purchasing existing accounts from another bank.

The credit terms on the new accounts do not have to be identical with the old. In such a case, you may wish to review any new terms and conditions to see if you want the new account and the new card. Generally, if the bank wants to make a significant change in the terms and conditions of a credit card, it must provide written notice at least 45 days before the effective date of the change. In most cases, the notice must include a statement that you may reject the change, as well as instructions for how to notify the bank that you reject the change. If you reject the change, the bank may choose to terminate or suspend your ability to use the account for further transactions.

Otherwise, if you receive an unsolicited card you should contact your bank promptly. Occasionally, a bank may issue a credit card in error. In such a case, you should direct the bank to close the account and remove any record of the account from your credit history.

Receiving an unsolicited card also could mean that a third party has applied for the card after stealing your identity. If you suspect identity theft, you should order a copy of your credit report. You can order one free credit report every 12 months through www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228.

For more information about identity theft, see "I believe I have been a victim of identity theft. How can I clear my name?"

Last Reviewed: October 2020

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on HelpWithMyBank.gov should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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