How to Opt Out of Credit Card Offers
Getting Rid of All those Credit Card Offers
I don't know how it works in the rest of the world, but if you live in the US and you are a credit card holder, then you're probably used to getting at least a couple of offers for new credit cards every single week.
They are the most common form of junk mail that I've received and with identity theft on the rise, I frequently found myself at a loss over what to do with them. I don't like to simply throw them out in case someone decides to pick through my trash and simply tearing them in half certainly doesn't seem like enough. So usually I'd let them pile up and then spend time shredding a whole batch of them at work.
Well, there are better ways of handling the deluge. It's called Opting Out.
Staying Informed of Your Rights
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
The official FTC website on the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website for Opting Out of Prescreen Offers
AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report. This is the ONLY website where you really get your credit report for free without having to sign up for some subscription offer first.
- How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Reports
My hub on the process of getting your free annual credit reports and what you should be on the look out for.
How to Opt Out
Under the FCRA (the Fair Credit Reporting Act), the consumer credit bureaus -- Experian, Transunion, Equifax, and Innovis are allowed to basically sell off some of your information to creditors and insurers for the purposes of offering you credit that you haven't requested. It's referred to as a "firm offer" which seems something of a misnomer since the offer is certainly not "firm" in the sense that anyone who understands the English language would think of it.
Fortunately the FCRA also has provisions requiring these companies to allow the consumer -- you and me -- to opt out of receiving these offers. (You can also "opt in", but I can't imagine why anyone would want to, unless they really love junk mail). You can opt out for either five years or permanently by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com which is the only official website from which you can do this. Do not trust other websites offering to do this for you. You can also call 1-888-5-OPTOUT
You can either opt out for five years by making your request on the website or you can opt out permanently, but this will require a second step. You'll need to print out a form and mail it in if you want to be off the offer lists for good.
Waiting for it to take effect
Once you opt out of the prescreen offers, it takes about five days for it officially take effect and then another several weeks before the offers usually stop altogether due to your information having been sold before opting out. So give it some time.
Why You Should Opt Out
There are several advantages to opting out of prescreen offers besides simply reducing junk mail. You will also limit your exposure to identity theft opportunities and, if you have problems with credit cards, it will severely reduce your temptation to overspend by signing up for more credit cards than you could possibly need.
If you haven't opted out yet and are planning on applying for a mortgage, it is a very good idea to opt out at least several weeks before you apply. Within days of a mortgage application, everyone and their mother will be trying to sell you something, and if there's some outstanding debt that you are unaware of and it has been lying dormant, this will stir the beast.
It is also recommended that if you are planning to start working on repairing your credit and cleaning up your credit reports, opting out should be your first step. It will not impact your credit report directly, but it may help improve your success with disputes and it may prevent some collection agencies from accessing your most current information.
Personal Finance by Suze Orman
Personal Finance by Dave Ramsey
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