I've recently been denied credit because my credit information is either missing or unavailable. Does this have anything to do with the fact that I elected to "opt out" years ago, and if so, how do I go about changing this?
That depends on what you mean by "opt out." If you mean you chose not to receive preapproved credit offers, that is not the issue. If you mean you chose to stop using credit, you are probably right.
The term "opt out" refers to your request to be removed from preapproved offer mailing lists compiled by Experian and the other national credit reporting companies on behalf of lenders and other businesses.
Opting out simply removes your name from those mailing lists. It doesn't cause your credit history to disappear. Your existing credit accounts will continue to be reported and updated, and any new accounts you open likely will be added to your credit history.
If, however, you mean you stopped using credit altogether, your credit history could disappear, particularly if you closed all of your existing credit accounts.
Open, active credit accounts with no negative information associated with them remain on your credit report indefinitely. But, closed accounts are deleted 10 years from the date they are closed.
Accounts with negative information in them, such as late payments, can be deleted even sooner. If an account is charged off as a bad debt, it will be deleted seven years from the original delinquency date, which is the date it first became delinquent.
So if you stopped using credit, all of the information in your credit report could have been deleted, so you wouldn't have a credit report. If you still have a credit report but just haven't used any of your accounts, there would be no recent activity to reflect your risk, so scoring models would not be able to produce a score for you.
Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team