Opt Out of Credit Offers

Dec 9, 2013 by

pre-approved creditOffers to lend money once made up a large chunk of our postal mail. The money lending industry calls these “pre-screened” solicitations. I call them junk mail of an especially annoying sort.

“Pre-Screened” Credit Offers

Issuers of pre-screened offers—sometimes called “pre-approved”—review information in your credit report to judge whether you meet their lending criteria. These so-called “soft” credit inquiries can be done without your permission, and they don’t affect your credit score. If you pass muster, along with congratulations on your record of stellar consumer citizenry, you’ll get in the mail an offer to lend you money.

“Hard” vs. “Soft” Credit Inquiries

A short tangent, because it’s important to understand the difference between hard and soft credit inquiries.

Hard inquiries generally happen because you’ve applied for a loan or a credit card or a job or insurance coverage. You will have given the inquiring party permission to have a look at your credit report. Hard inquires negatively affect you’re your credit score. Inquiries remain on your credit report for two years, though the widely used FICO® score considers inquiries made only during the past twelve months. Fair Isaac Corporation, the company behind the FICO® score, recommends that you do any loan shopping within a short period of time to minimize the negative affect hard inquiries have on your credit score.

Soft inquiries have no affect on your credit score. This category includes your own requests for your credit report, if you obtain your report directly from the reporting bureau or an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers. If you’re thinking of getting your credit report through such an organization, it’s a good idea to ask first whether the organization’s work on your behalf will affect your credit score.

Back to the main theme of this article…

Stop the Pre-screened Offer Onslaught

You may have learned to recognize pre-approved credit offers without opening the envelope and toss them directly into the recycle bin. But there’s an even better way to handle pre-screened credit solicitation: opt out!

If I’m in the market for something—especially a loan or insurance—I want to be the one doing the research and choosing, not the other way around. If I were in the market for a loan or credit card, the last thing I’d do is peruse my junk mail for offers that looked good. So I didn’t see a downside to cutting off this sort of marketing schlock at the source, and fed up one day with credit solicitations clogging my mailbox, I took action. As a result, my mail carrier’s burden, my environmental footprint, and my household’s trash flow have eased noticeably.

You can opt out of pre-screened solicitations either for five years or forever. I chose forever because it sounds longer than five years. To opt out of pre-screened junk offers, phone toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

Once you opt out, the unsolicited offers will dry up. Yay!

Boo! Credit Industry Scare Tactics

Because the industry makes huge money from pre-screened offers, you may encounter warnings of dire consequences of opting out. Keep these facts in mind:

1. Opting out does not affect your credit score.
2. Opting out does not affect your prospects for obtaining credit or insurance.
3. If you believe by opting out you’re going to miss out on offers made only to “special” people like you, then I’ve got a very nice bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Go Whole Hog

Are you liking this opting out thing? Take another step. The Direct Marketing Association lets you opt out of receiving junk mail from many national companies for five years. To register, go to www.dmachoice.org.

Do You Opt Out?

Have you opted out of credit offers or junk mail? Would you?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Kurt Fischer

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  • Color Me Frugal

    We opted out of credit offers about a year ago and it has been awesome- the amount of junk mail that we received really dropped a lot. We also feel like this is helping to protect us from identity theft since fewer credit offers printed= fewer chances for potential identity thieves to get our info.

  • Travis Pizel

    I think it’s hilarious that the same companies that we have accounts enrolled into a debt management program send us prescreen offers for new accounts. LOL…RIIIIP, and in the garbage.

    • That is amazing, isn’t it? I’ve seen people who recently completed the bankruptcy process get ‘pre-approved’ offers!

  • I get at least one solicitation a day. It’s horrible! That’s the downside to having a good credit score.

    • As Travis says, the solicitations seem to come to those with poor credit too though! I guess like any seller of anything, lenders target those with a record of buying what they have to sell: high-interest debt.

  • Yes, it’s important to realize that any unsolicited offer is probably not the best deal that you could be getting. Besides, who likes getting all that junk in the mail?

    • Seems like our mail is ~90% junk these days. I think postal mail will be defunct entirely within a decade.

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