Do you receive pre-approved credit card offers? You’re not alone. In fact, the credit card industry sends out several billion credit card offers each year. The good news, if you’re receiving credit card offers, is you usually must have good credit or you wouldn’t receive these offers.
The credit card issuers select names from the credit reporting agencies’ databases based on credit requirements that are acceptable and send a pre-approved credit offer. They can do the same by providing their own list of names to screen for credit. You have already qualified for the credit card and can accept the offer if you want.
If you discard these offers (you should shred them to avoid someone else opening an account in your name) and aren’t interested in opening a new credit card account, you can stop them. This process is call “opt out”. It is a federal program sponsored by the four credit report agencies (CRAs): Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion. There are two options, one is to opt out for five years and other is to opt out permanently.
Opt out for five years – To opt out for five years, call 1-888-5- OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688 or go to the website at www.optoutprescreen.com. This number and site are operated by the four CRAs and is a secure site. The request is handled within five days.
Opt out permanently – To permanently opt out, go to the same website at www.optoutprescreen.com . You
must return the signed Permanent Opt Out Election form via mail, which is provided after you initiate the on-line request. The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) requires you to send this request in writing to the CRAs. This form will require you to provide personal information such as phone, name, Social Security number (SSN) and date of birth; providing SSN is optional. This request is not in effect until the form is received. In the interim, you are enrolled in the five year program.
You may still receive pre-approved offers for several months after you submitted the request. There could be lists being processed for mailing, which takes time.
This Opt Out process is only for pre-approved credit card offers that use the CRAs to screen names for credit. You can still receive credit card offers that aren’t pre-approved and require you to apply for the card. In addition, companies you currently do business with can still send you offers. This process is not for other types of unsolicited “junk” mail such as local merchants, charities and professional associations.
John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com. the credit blogger for Mint.com. and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling . He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here .