State attempts to shield holders of Discover card Mass cancellation threatens ratings


Alan T. Fell, the state's commissioner of consumer credit, said yesterday he was working with Discover credit card officials to ensure that no Marylander's credit record was hurt by the recent mass cancellation of new Discover credit cards.

"I don't want any credit record to be blemished with the words 'credit card canceled,' " he said.

Mr. Fell's concern was sparked by the disclosure that Discover Card Services, a subsidiary of the giant retailer Sears Roebuck "TC Co., canceled more than 50,000 credit cards that had been issued in December in a mass mailing of pre-approved application forms.

After the cards were issued, Discover found that it had not properly screened the applications, according to Beth L. Metzler, a spokeswoman for the credit card company.

"The cards were issued in error due to the system error. Those people should not have received the cards," Ms. Metzler said. She declined to explain the error or to say how many Maryland residents were affected.

As a result of the error, the company canceled all the cards a week ago and mailed letters to consumers explaining what had happened and asking them to reapply, she said.

Meanwhile, card holders who tried to make purchases or use automated teller machines across the country found their new cards had been revoked.

The action did not affect other Discover card holders, Ms. Metzler said.

Mr. Fell, who oversees credit card issues in Maryland, said his primary concern was to ensure that credit reports were not marred by Discover's actions.

"My main concern is that any credit bureau report made by Discover or Sears doesn't hurt their credit record," he said, adding that Discover had been "extremely cooperative," he said.

Credit reports, which are maintained on everyone who has had a credit card or has received a loan, are used extensively by lending companies to determine the credit worthiness of potential borrowers.

Mr. Fell said he had received one complaint about the matter so far. "I'm sure we will have many more," he said.

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