Are you tired of going to the mailbox and finding an endless stream of offers for new, improved, interest-free, fast-point-building credit cards? I have a telephone number and website you can use to put a stop to them for five years. Or even permanently.
(Don't worry. If you begin to miss that selection of junk mail, you can also use the information to re-enlist.)
These "prescreened" or "preapproved" offers for credit cards or insurance come about because companies decide what it would take for borrowers to qualify for their product. Then they query the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, Transunion and Innovis – for a list of people who meet those standards.
Off go the "preapproved" offers (aka "junk mail" to some recipients).
The inquiries from the credit card companies won't affect your credit score. They just help produce a flood of preapproved applications for the postal service to deliver. As it turns out, the credit card companies don't want to waste their time either, and thus have set up a system.
There are two options when opting out. One is to opt out for a five-year period. That can be done by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688). The second method is to use the website: www.optoutprescreen.com.
In addition to opting out for five years, consumers can opt out permanently on the website – but you'll need to print out and sign a form and mail it in. There is no form for the five-year option.
The website can also be used to opt back in to receive the special prescreened offers should you change you mind.
In either case, be aware that consumers must provide their name, address, Social Security number and date of birth.
A spokeswoman for the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies said that while the four association-member companies will have opt-out requests on the list within five days, it may take longer before there is a reduction in the amount of applications arriving in the mail.
"Your name may have already been provided to some companies that have a mailing in the pipeline," she said. Your name will be added to the opt-out list for the next mail cycle.
She added that not all credit or insurance companies use the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies to compile their lists, so applications will still be mailed by those companies. But signing up should produce a noticeable reduction in applications in four to six weeks.
The credit industry's website notes that if you opt out, you won't be among "the many consumers who can significantly benefit from having ready access to product information on credit and insurance products that may not be available to the general public." But then again, you may not want all those offers in the first place.
Choose wisely, Grasshopper.
Lonnie Brown can be reached at LedgerDatabase@aol.com.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Gadget Daddy: Tired of credit card offers? You can opt out