I had a credit card from a clothing store that I no longer used and didn't want to monitor any longer so I decided to close the account. I can still login and see my account but it says 'account closed at user request.' That's great, but the reason I closed it was so that I wouldn't have to ever monitor it again. Now, since the account isn't actually deleted, just more or less deactivated I feel that I have to login occassionally to make sure everyting is okay with it which defeats the purpose of closing it. I've called the company several times but can never get them to actually delete the account permanently. Has anyone had this issue and been able to get an account like this removed permanently?
You have little chance of getting it deleted. I have the same situation, I closed mine in 2006, and the login still works.
Keep the paperwork that you closed it (or print a PDF of the site showing so), and forget about it. If someone is trying to cheat, re-opening it should be the same difficulty as making a new one in your name, so it is not really an additional risk.
You could also set the username and password both to a long random string, and not keep them. That soft-forces you to never login again.
Note that it will also stay on your credit record for some years (but that's not a bad thing, as it is not in default; in the contrary). The only negative is that if you apply for credit, you might be ashamed of people seeing you ever having had a Sears or Macy's card or so.
They close accounts to render them inoperative. They never delete accounts because they want to retain the data to inform any future decision to give you credit.
Also, 99% of the time, if a customer demands their account be deleted, it's because of adverse credit marks and the angry customer wants this accurate information to stop burning their credit report. The answer in this case absolutely must be "heck, no!"
That pretty much precludes any valid reason to delete an account. As such, their business systems are not built in a way to make account deletion really possible. Even if you got a job with the company's data-processing department and had direct query/write accesses to the databases, you would find it technically inachievable to surgically remove the specific data (without risking serious damage to the entire DB). And it would still be in transaction logs, so not gone forever.
Another reason to keep your account alive is to give you online access to statements. After all, the IRS can audit you 5 years after the fact, so it's real nice to be able to go back that far. Most places the statue of limitations is 6-7 years, so again, defending yourself in a lawsuit, here's raw data from an independent third party that you couldn't have faked. Strictly from a customer service POV, that means you can self-serve on requests like that, instead of having to involve expensive staff time.
I totally get the annoyance of having yet another login/password you don't want to have flapping out there in the breeze potentially exposed to a cracker... but given that the account is closed, it's probably not going to cause you much trouble. If anything, change the password to one outside your normal choices, perhaps even one you don't know (retain). As long as you retain the email you have tied to the account, you can always reset the password on the off chance you ever need to get back in. Speaking of that, don't rely on your ISP's (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org), get a Gmail account. I have a dedicated gmail account just for stuff like that.
If it is closed, you should be able to trust that it is closed permanently.
What you still have is the online account. Imagine this would be removed and then the account would be re-activated? That should not happen, but the way you see it, you must be afraid of that as well.
What I mean to say: See these two things as completely separate.
There are three parties involved here: there's the store that issued you the card, then they have some bank that's actually handling the account, and there is some network (VISA, MasterCard, etc.) that the transactions go through. So one avenue to consider is seeing whether all three are aware of you canceling the card.