Opting Out of Pre-Screened Credit Offers
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you (“Firm Offers”). The FCRA also provides you the right to “Opt-Out”, which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from providing your credit file information for Firm Offers.
What does that mean?
You know those annoying “pre-approved” credit card offers that arrive in your mail almost daily? You can stop them. You can fill out the electronic opt-out form at www.optoutprescreen.com to opt out for five years. After five years, you’ll have to opt-out again. You can also permanently opt-out using a mail-in form and never worry about receiving annoying pre-screened credit offers again. This also lets the credit bureaus know that you are not open to receiving unsolicited offers.
What’s the value to my credit report?
Opting out won’t improve your credit scores or your credit rating. It won’t be reflected on your credit report in any way. Possibly, it will make your credit report and the information contained therein less valuable to the credit bureaus since they cannot generate income by selling your information. If your report is less valuable, there is a possibility that getting disputes resolved and misinformation removed will be easier for you.
Opting Out of Direct Marketing
Get your name and information further off the radar by following the advice and information provided by the Direct Marketing Association at www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html. They offer advice and forms for getting yourself removed from mailing lists, email lists, and telephone lists. There is a $1 fee for processing your request to be removed from mailing lists, but it’s money well-spent.
Private information that cannot be sold or shared with others is useless information to these companies and they won’t waste space or memory by storing it. Additionally, think of all the paper you’ll save if you’re not receiving junk mail, think of all the time and frustration saved by avoiding annoying telemarketing calls, think how nice it would be to hit the delete key in your email a little less often.
Opting Out of Other Lists
Once you’ve prevented the credit bureaus and the direct marketers from sharing or using your personal information for their own gain, you have to make a list of the other companies and instutions that have your information. Start with financial institutions – anywhere that you have a checking account, savings account, CD, money market account, credit card, loan, mortgage, etc. You have to contact each one directly and ask them not to share your information with anyone.
Other companies that might be sharing or selling your information include mail-order companies, e-commerce sites where you have shopped, companies with whom you have registered a warranty or service plan, companies where you have a shopping club or discount card, your health club, the magazines you subscribe to and many, many others. Unfortunately, there’s no central place to remove yourself from these sell/share lists, so you have to contact each company individually.
Going forward, be sure to check the privacy policies on any websites that you use before you register for an account or make a purchase. Notify any telephone operators that you speak to that you would not like your information to be shared or sold. Mark the box to keep your information private when you fill out any type of form. Make sure that at every point, companies who have your personal information are aware that you do not want that information shared or sold.