Recently I noticed a sudden increase in the amount of junk mail we receive at home. Looking through the piles, I realized that much of it was those pesky credit card offers. You know the kind: you’ve been pre-approved, (fill in your name, or perhaps a grossly incorrect version of your name), for a VISA credit card. The kind that you must shred before discarding so that no one can go through your trash and use that information to fraudulently open & use a credit card in your good name…
It was time, once again, to opt out.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumer credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian and Innovis) are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you. Thankfully, the FCRA also gives you the right to “Opt-Out”, which prevents the credit reporting companies from providing your credit file information for such offers.
I have opted out in the past, but I learned that my opt-out request expired after 5 years. Much to my relief, consumers now have the option to permanently opt out. To exercise your right to opt out – temporarily or permanently – visit www.optoutprescreen.com and click on the bar at the bottom of the homepage. You simply need to provide your name, address, social security number and date of birth, and print and sign the mail-in form. You can also request an opt-out for your spouse or other family member; he or she will need to sign their opt-out form.
It’s been about a month since I sent in permanent opt-out forms for my family, and prescreened credit card offers have all but stopped. It can take about 6 weeks for your request to make it way through the system. Not only have we greatly reduced the volume of unwanted mail, but the chance of our credit identity being used for credit card fraud has been greatly reduced.