Final Wave of Credit Card Notices Looks Like Junk Mail, Watchdogs Say

Buried among the holiday sales flyers and charity appeal letters, modest-looking envelopes could contain major news about consumer credit cards. Under new rules in 2010, account changes must be communicated through clear, direct mailings. However, a handful of lenders have decided to notify some customers about last minute modifications to their accounts by sending letters that look suspiciously like junk mail.

Credit card regulations already allow borrowers to reject changes to account terms and conditions, often in exchange for closing accounts to new purchases. According to consumer advocates, customers may mistakenly toss out bank notifications with similar-looking coupon packets or vinyl siding offers. With no clear return address or company logo, many cardholders may simply overlook these mandated notices.

Because federal regulators cannot control bank notifications until February 2010, personal finance experts advise Americans to open every piece of mail they receive over the coming weeks. While time consuming, reviewing every letter can prevent serious account issues in the spring.