If you have a credit card you’ve likely received a number of emails and mailers—or been prompted when you log in to your account online—asking you to update your salary information on an annual basis. It might seem intrusive, but issuers ask because the Credit Card Act of 2009 requires them to verify a cardholder’s ability to pay.
To do this, card issuers need to consider your income in relation to any debts you have.
You don’t have to answer the company’s prompts. Doing so, however, may lead to a credit increase. Per the Credit Card Act, “[a] card issuer may not…increase any credit limit applicable to such account, unless the card issuer considers the ability of the consumer to make the required payments under the terms of such account.”
If the information is required, say for you to log in to your account, and you’re not comfortable sharing the info, it’s best to reach out to customer service and ask for a workaround, rather than lying, as this Consumer Reports piece details. “Entering a random string of numbers into this field could constitute fraud, as you’re effectively giving the bank inaccurate information about your income.”
CR writes that, for example, entering “123”on a Capital One prompt tells the system that the field wasn’t updated—not that your income is $123.
Here’s another reason not to, ahem, inflate your income, according to CreditCards.com:
But if your account is ever subject to collection action, or if you file bankruptcy, “issuers have a notation on file with a claim for cardholder income.”
- In these situations, any inflated income claims that you made will harm your chances of erasing the debt, or a portion of it.
- In the same way, the exaggerated income claim will work against you if you ever try to negotiate a settlement of the debt, or a workout arrangement.
If you are a non-working spouse, you can include your household’s total income without penalty.
One more thing to note: While not updating it might mean new products aren’t advertised to you (not necessarily a bad thing), providing your issuer with updated salary info could have the consequence of them sharing it with third parties, depending on your cardholder agreement. If that turns you off, then there’s no need to update your info.