Chances are, you'll never know whether your card comes locked-down or ready to use unless you give it a try, as did Eva Graham, of Newington, Conn..
She charged a few purchases, problem-free, using a newly arrived American Express card -- a replacement for one she had lost. When she called for help, a customer service representative reminded her that she had forgotten to activate the new card.
One news report details a woman charging more than 0 with no problem.
Keep on shopping While certain card issuers, including Discover and Wells Fargo, mail cards that can't be used without activation, some, such as Capital One and Bank of America, may allow small purchases -- a coffee at Starbucks, for instance, or an online buy.
For most consumers, it's a familiar process: A new credit card arrives in your mailbox, you open the envelope, and the card bears a sticker reading, "Please call from your home phone to activate your card." Until then, your brand new credit card is as useless as a paperweight -- and just as secure, right? The startling truth is that while some unactivated cards are automatically declined, many others sail through a purchase without a hitch.
My phones immediately stopped receiving calls, and I was left with a large bill and the anxiety and fear of financial injury that spring from identity theft.The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content.Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.If you activate your card online -- an option offered by an increasing number of banks -- you'll need to log into your online banking account; that, in itself, can serve as another way to authenticate that you're the rightful owner of the credit card.However, even those safety measures won't keep a new card secure from sophisticated thieves, says Stevenson.
"Very few banks send out a card that can't be used, at least in low-risk situations," says Scott Stevenson, founder and CEO of Eliminate ID Theft, a credit protection service.