Consumer credit reporting agencies are selling our consumer credit info to marketers, which leads to daily piles of prescreened credit card and loan offers arriving in our mailboxes.
Any business that requests a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Equifax or Experian, must have a permissible purpose to do so. When a credit card company wants to pull a massive list of consumers to send prescreened notices, it just asks CRAs for our financial info and they provide it for a price. Federal law allows this practice as a “permissible purpose” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Why? Why? Why?
Because big banks and insurance companies lobby the representatives that we elect.
The “oh, we do something for the people” part comes in as a rarely-used exception that requires CRAs to allow consumers to opt-out of prescreened offers, which takes us out of the lists that banks and insurance companies purchase from CRAs.
To exercise your opt-out, you can call a toll-free number or fill out an online form for a 5-year opt-out term.
However, you have to mail in a form for a permanent opt-out.
The 5-year opt-out process is straightforward and can be done at OptOutPrescreen.com.
You can also call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to handle the same process.
Complete details and confirmation that this is legit can be found here at the FTC’s website.
Below, I’m pasting the relevant section verbatim from the FTC on how to opt-out for either 5 years or permanently.
Can I reduce the number of unsolicited credit and insurance offers I get?
If you decide that you don’t want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: You can opt out of receiving them for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently.
To opt out for five years: Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. The phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies.
To opt out permanently: You may begin the permanent Opt-Out process online at www.optoutprescreen.com. To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.
When you call or visit the website, you’ll be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home telephone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth. The information you provide is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out.