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If you're not interested in getting preapproved credit and insurance offers, you can choose to opt out of them with either a five-year pause or a permanent opt-out. Either option means credit bureaus won't include you in the list of prescreened consumers they send to creditors and insurance companies.
Opting out could result in fewer calls, emails and letters—however, you may also miss out on targeted offers that aren't otherwise available. Here's what you need to know.
What Are Preapproved Credit Offers?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the consumer credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance. Credit bureaus can sort through their databases and create prescreened lists based on a company's specifications, such as a geographic area and credit score range. The company can then send out a preapproved firm offer of credit to people who pass the prescreening process.
Using prescreened lists helps companies avoid sending offers to consumers who may not need, want or qualify for a new account. Similarly, these lists help make sure you don't receive irrelevant offers. Getting a firm offer of credit also means that if you decide to apply, you'll likely get approved unless your credit or financial situation changed for the worse since you were selected.
How to Opt Out of Firm Credit Offers
The FCRA also provides consumers with the right to opt out of these offers. You can opt out of prescreened lists by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or submitting the request online at OptOutPrescreen.com. You'll need to share some personal information, such as your name, Social Security number and date of birth to submit your request.
You can opt out of prescreened offers for five years using the phone or online option. If you want to request a permanent opt-out, you'll need to fill out and mail in a form, which you can find online or request over the phone at OptOutPrescreen.com.
The OptOutPrescreen line and website are run by Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Innovis—four major consumer credit bureaus—and you only need to submit the request once to be removed from all four bureaus' prescreening lists.
Experian encourages consumers to make informed decisions about credit and insurance offers. Firm offers can provide opportunities to take advantage of offers that might not be available to the general public, and can provide more product choices for better comparison shopping.
How to Opt Out of Other Direct Marketing Offers
Keep in mind, however, that opting out of prescreened credit offers won't keep you off other mailing lists. Companies can buy or rent lists of potential customers from other companies, including marketing companies that specialize in list-building, and target their existing or past customers with new offers.
You can opt out of some of these offers if you:
- Visit DMAchoice.org to create an account with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and decide which mail you want to receive from DMA members. There's a $2 processing fee, which will cover you for 10 years.
- Visit the DMA website and update your email preferences to reduce email marketing.
- Request to be taken off non-DMA mailing and marketing lists, such as those run by Epsilon, RetailMeNot and Valpak.
- Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry for free.
- Send a request by mail to the DMA Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
Taking these steps won't necessarily stop all marketing mail, email and phone calls, but it can help reduce the volume. In some cases, you may need to reach out to each company or organization individually and ask to be taken off of their marketing lists.
How to Opt In After Opting Out
If you've opted out of prescreened offers, you can opt back in by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visiting OptOutPrescreen.com and choosing the opt-in option.
Many consumers prefer receiving prescreened credit and insurance offers, as they may be targeted for an offer that's not available to the general public. Preapproval offers can also help you compare your current credit accounts and insurance plans to the offers and see if you could save money by switching.
Continue to Check Your Offers
Whether or not you opt out of prescreened offers, you may be able to apply for preapproval directly with a creditor and see which credits cards and offers you'll likely qualify for. You can also use Experian's CreditMatchTM to get matched with credit card and loan offers without impacting your credit score.