I unknowingly conducted an experiment two years ago. My husband and I love to travel, and I wanted to sign onto one of those credit card offers that gives you free airfare. As the weeks and months went by, signing up for an offer took the back burner to other important things in my life. Even though I didn’t take the time to fill one of these offers out, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. So as each offer came in the mail, I added it to a stack on my desk. The pile grew rather quickly and became a bit unwieldy. I was so amazed with how many offers were coming through the door that I decided to see how many credit card offers would pass through my mailbox in a span of two years.
The number came to 52.
That’s right; an amazing 52 credit card offers (approximately one every other week) showed up in my mailbox over the course of two years.
Most of the offers were unwanted, and all of them were a waste of paper. At the end of this experiment, I decided it was time to look into putting a stop to the junk mail.
Why Do So Many Credit Card Offers Come through the Mail?
First of all, I wanted to find out why people (me included) receive so many pre-screened and pre-approved credit card offers. After all, it’s not like I have ever filled out an application online for one.
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There are three main US Credit Bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, these agencies are allowed to sell your credit history information—name, address, employer, open credit lines and amounts, payment history, etc.—to credit lending institutions. This creates a perfect situation for credit lending companies who want to take this data and target specific, credit-worthy consumers (so I guess we should take it as a positive sign that we received 52 offers!).
How to Stop the Flow of Credit Card Offers through Your Mailbox
If you are also “blessed” with lots of credit card offers that you are not interested in receiving, then there is a way to stop the flow through your mailbox. With the amendment of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in 1990, consumers were given a choice to opt out of solicitations. This is completed by directing Credit Reporting Agencies to exclude your name and address from lists provided to credit lending companies.
You are given two choices in regards to opting out of pre-approved and pre-screened credit card offers: either opt out of them for five years, or opt out of them permanently.
To Opt Out for Five Years: You can either call the number 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit OptOutPrescreen.com.
To Opt Out Permanently: You can also start the process of permanent opt-out through OptOutPrescreen.com. However, you need to print the application out, sign it, and send it in. If you do not happen to have the internet, then you can request an application through the mail. In the time between when you initiate this process and when you return the form to the designated address, you will automatically be opted into the 5-year list removal
It was great finding out that there is a way to stop these types of mailings. However, choosing to have your name removed from the lists used for pre-approved and pre-screened solicitations does not mean you will never receive another credit card offer again. It just means that you will not receive a credit card offer that is based on the credit records maintained by the Credit Reporting Agencies. In order to stop solicitations from other places, you will need to write them individually to request your name and address to be taken off of their list.
If you’ve already succumbed to the lure of credit cards and are ready to work your way out of their grip, try using our free online debt repayment tool and browse this blog for more great tips on getting out of debt.
Image Credit tanakawho