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How to opt out of pre-approved credit card offers

by Barbara Marquand

Although you may not be able to shut off the flow of direct-mail ads for credit cards entirely, you can narrow the stream.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act lets insurers and creditors send unsolicited offers based on information they learn about consumers through credit reporting bureaus. Anytime you get pre-approved credit card offers, you can bet the companies got information about your credit history to make sure you fit their target markets.

On the other hand, the law also gives you the right to just say no. Some consumers choose not to receive prescreened credit card offers because they want to protect their privacy, avoid the temptation to run up additional debt, or prevent thieves from stealing pre-approved applications from their mailboxes.

How to opt out of prescreened credit card offers

1. Opt out of credit card offers online

Make your request to opt out through the consumer credit reporting industry's website, OptOutPrescreen.com. The website guides you through the process of submitting your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth.

Within five business days, your name should then be removed from the lists that consumer credit reporting bureaus supply to companies wishing to make prescreened offers for credit and insurance. But don't be surprised if you continue to receive some credit card ads after you have opted out. Opting out only ends prescreened offers, not other direct-mail ads. In addition, you may continue to receive prescreened offers for several weeks after you opt out simply because some companies may have gotten your name before you submitted your request.

2. How long can you opt out?

You can choose to opt out from prescreened credit and insurance offers for five years or permanently, so decide how long you want to shut off the tap. If you want to opt out permanently, you must confirm your request in writing after you complete the information online. The website provides a form to print out and mail in.

Make informed decisions

It's easy to opt out of prescreened credit card offers. But before you pull the plug, do consider the upside. Sometimes prescreened solicitations let you know about offers not available to the general public and help you comparison shop for credit cards. But even if you do opt out, you can still find and apply for credit card offers online if you like and you can opt back in if you change your mind later as well.

Published 09/27/12 (Modified 11/19/13)


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