Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why am I Getting Credit Card Offers?

My parents have a joint credit card that's almost thirty years old. Their high balance on the account was $1000 sometime in the 80s and my dad is the only person who has ever used the card. My parents prefer to pay for everything in cash (to the horror of their rewards loving daughter) and my mom has never had to use the card. The only loan they've ever taken out was for the mortgage.

My parents left the US two-three years ago and my mother is still receiving direct mailings at my brother's house weekly. She gets credit card offers, retirement mail, life insurance, car insurance, pet insurance - pretty much every type of mail propaganda imaginable has come in Mom's name and has confused me for years because Dad gets nothing and he's actually used credit.

I'm reading Whatever Happened to Thrift?: Why Americans Don't Save and What to Do about It and on page 19 of the book the author discusses mathematical modeling to determine junk mail recipients and ends with:

"You are receiving the offer because the vendor expects you will be more profitable than the average Joe, either because you have demonstrated your willingness to purchase items based on direct-mail marketing in the past or...."

(the author doesn't just trail off like that, that's just when that light bulb in my head went off)

Mom purchased a set of towels and pots from Fingerhut when I was in grade school. She paid them off with a money order. As far as I know (and I was always too involved with their finances) this was the only time she ordered items through the mail. So this little pile of junk mail coming to one person and not the other (even though they have identical credit reports) stems from her purchase made roughly twenty years ago.

I'm glad the brain process mulling this issue for years can finally be devoted to more relevant issues ;)