Is your mail box filling up with credit card offers? Some people jokingly say that if they did not receive credit card offers or insurance company offers they would receive no mail at all. However, for many of us, the unsolicited offers of credit and insurance have become a huge nuisance. Just as there is an opt-out procedure to keep telemarketers from calling you, there is also an opt-out procedure to allow you to get off the credit marketing lists.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Consumer Credit Reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion) are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make “firm offers” of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you. These “firm offers” are the typical “you are pre-approved” offers that you receive in the mail from different credit card providers. Before the credit card company makes the “firm offer” to you, they run your credit report through one of the Consumer Credit Reporting companies to make sure that you are credit-worthy.
What most credit card companies and the Consumer Credit Reporting companies do not emphasize is that the Fair Credit Reporting Act also provides you the right to “opt-out” of receiving these unsolicited offers, which in effect prevents the Consumer Credit Reporting companies from providing your credit file information to companies that are making “firm offers.”
To “opt-out” of receiving these unsolicited offers for a period of five years, you can visit the web site set up by the Consumer Credit Reporting companies at www.optoutprescreen.com or you may call toll free (888) 567-8688. If you want to be permanently deleted from the list, you have to choose the permanent opt-out feature on the above noted web site, and then you must “confirm” your request in writing by submitting a signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form. At the time that you submit your electronic request, you will receive a confirmation along with the Permanent Opt-Out Election Form that must be completed and returned by regular mail.
It should be noted that for those who have opted-out in the past, the same web site can be used to opt back in to receiving these offers. An argument can be made that these unsolicited mailings benefit consumers by making people aware of offers that are not available to the general public and that they allow consumers to comparison shop without ever leaving the comfort of their home. In the past few years, the Federal Reserve actually submitted a 56-page report to Congress on the benefit of these unsolicited offers. That report can be viewed from the opt-out web site cited above.
If you want to limit your credit card offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com. If not, do nothing and let your mail box fill up with all the offers.
If you do continue to receive these “firm offers,” please take the precaution of shredding all the offers that you do not accept. If not, you may find yourself a target for identity theft.