How to opt out of credit card offers
Having your inbox flooded with junk mail and answering your phone only to hear about yet another credit card offer can quickly become annoying. However, apart from being a nuisance, being enrolled in these pre-screened offers can put you at an increased risk of cybercrime.
Whether it’s for data privacy and security or just for the sake of your sanity, you can opt-out of these pre-screened offers. To do so, you’ll need to understand how you end up on these lists in the first place. The answer is credit reporting agencies. And each one has its own (often complicated) opt-out process.
Below, we’ll go over what these pre-screened offers actually are, reasons to consider opting out, and how to go through with it if you decide that it’s the best option for you.
What are pre-screened credit card offers?
Pre-screened credit card offers are offers sent to a selected group of potential customers who are eligible for competitive conditions. If a person meets certain requirements established previously by the credit card issuers, they qualify for an offer not available to others.
How do pre-screened offers work?
Pre-screened credit card offers are a form of marketing strategy used by credit card issuers. Credit card companies develop a set of requirements, typically based on information such as credit reports, which a potential client needs to pass in order to qualify for their preferential terms.
Once these requirements are determined, the credit card company reaches out to one of the major credit bureaus and asks for a list of people that meet the criteria. Finally, the issuer sends out pre-screened credit card offers to those on the list.
The trick behind these offers lies in the better rates or terms you may receive. This is a potential win-win situation, as the card issuer is increasing the chance of gaining a new client while you are offered better terms.
Should you opt out?
The first and most significant reason for opting out of pre-screened offers is data privacy. Opting in to these offers gives multiple companies access to loads of your highly sensitive personal information. This includes your Social Security number, date of birth, credit history, bankruptcies, existing credit accounts, and more.
The more places this information exists, the greater the risk of data privacy threats such as data breaches and identity theft. Even the most well-known and reputable companies aren’t immune to such attacks. In fact, back in 2019, Capital One suffered a data breach affecting 100 million credit card applications and accounts.
A slightly less dangerous but still annoying issue that comes with pre-screened credit offers is increased junk mail. Receiving prescreened offers means unsolicited mail and phone calls cluttering up your communication channels.
How to opt out of pre-screened card offers?
The Federal Trade Commission has created a short and comprehensive guide on how you can submit an opt-out request. There are three ways you can go about it and two lengths for which you can opt out. You can choose to opt out for five years or permanently.
- Go to the www.optoutprescreen.com website and submit an online request
- Opt out by calling the toll-free number 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688)
Disclaimer: When choosing these opt-out methods, you will be asked to provide certain personal information, including your full name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.
- Go to www.optoutscreen.com, fill out a written request, print it, and mail it using the provided instructions
How to opt out from other data brokers
Just because you’ve opted out from pre-screened credit offers doesn’t mean your data still isn’t at risk. With thousands of data brokers out there collecting and selling your personal information, there is still a chance that your data may fall into the wrong hands.
That’s why we highly recommend opting out from other data brokers, either manually, by following our easy guides, or automatically, by using Incogni. With Incogni, you won’t have to lift a finger, as our data removal service will send automatic opt-out requests on your behalf, saving you that precious time.
If you prefer to opt out manually, start from these data brokers:
Will opting out hurt my credit score?
No, credit scores remain unaffected by opting out of preselected credit card offers.
Will opting out make all unwanted mail and phone calls go away?
Unfortunately no. You will only be opted out of prescreened offers that take information from lists from the major credit bureaus. If you are still present on lists from other sources (charities, alumni associations, etc.), you will continue to receive offers from them.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a law that regulates fairness and privacy of information, and how credit card issuers handle private data.
What are soft inquiries?
A soft inquiry, sometimes referred to as a soft credit check, occurs when a credit card company checks your credit history in order to ensure you are eligible for pre-screened offers.