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Topics addressed on March 8, 2006:
Unsolicited credit offers do not hurt credit scores
Dear Experian,How can I stop unsolicited companies from checking my report thus lowering my score?
Unsolicited credit offers – also called preapproved offers or prescreened offers – do not affect credit scores. Inquiries for preapproved credit offers appear only on your personal credit report when you request it from Experian so that you have a complete record of who has accessed your credit history.
Lenders do not receive inquiries for preapproved credit offers. So, those inquiries have no influence on lending decisions or credit scores. Lenders only receive inquiries that are the result of business transaction you have initiated, most commonly through a credit application.
The impact of credit inquiries on credit scores is minimal or none at all unless you have other issues with your credit history, such as late payments, high debt, collection accounts or bankruptcy. An inquiry alone will never be the reason your application is declined.
An inquiry simply is a record that someone has accessed your credit history. Recent inquiries can indicate that you have additional debt that does not yet appear in your credit history as an account. That is not significant if you’ve managed your credit well because you will likely continue to make good credit decisions. However, it is important if you already are having problems managing your credit because the inquiry indicates you may be taking on even more debt.
You can opt out of receiving preapproved credit offers by calling 1 888 5 OPT OUT (1 888 567 8688). Think carefully, though, before doing so. You will no longer receive offers from national credit card providers or lenders, limiting your access to such services to your local community. That vastly limits your access to services.
Consider the credit cards you now have in your purse or wallet. In my experience, most consumers carry at least one credit card they obtained through a preapproved offer. While you might not need new services now, you might in the future. You can opt back in by calling the same number, but it will take months before you start receiving new offers.
From a purely business perspective, if you can resist the temptation to accept and use too much credit, you might want to let the offers keep coming and recycle them. You might want or need to take advantage of them in the future.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team