Junk mail – that ubiquitous nuisance that shows up everyday, usually boasting pre-approved offers for credit cards and insurance rates – poses a very real problem. These offers can be scooped from your mailbox, opened without your knowledge, and used fraudulently under your name without permission. While this may not be the most popular form of identity theft out there, it does happen and it’s a real risk. Add to that the fact that junk mail usually just ends up in the trash, representing a huge waste of paper and resources, and there’s simply no reason you need to continue receiving it.
The good news is that you can opt out. OptOutPrescreen.com is the only consumer credit reporting agency website approved by all four major consumer credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian, and Innovis) to accept and process opt-in or opt-out requests from consumers for firm offers of credit or insurance.
First, it’s important to understand what you’re opting in or out of when you fill out the form on OptOutPrescreen.com. You are not opting out of all junk mail receipt, and you’re not removing your name from all mailing lists, particularly local ones.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumer credit reporting companies are permitted to provide lists of consumers’ names to creditors and insurance companies so they can make you “firm offers” of credit or insurance. A firm offer is essentially based on specific criteria, such as age, home ownership, or business ownership, and is honored by the offering company as long as the customer’s credit report checks out during processing.
When you use the OptOutPrescreen.com website, you are choosing to opt-in or out of these lists. When you opt-out, “pre-approval” notices from credit cards and insurance companies stop. When you opt in, they resume.
- Opt-Out for Five Years. You may choose to opt-out for five years by simply filling out the online form on OptOutPrescreen.com. The form is processed through all four consumer credit reporting companies, and your name is removed from future lists within five business days. You should stop receiving new offers of credit or insurance within several weeks, with significantly fewer offers within several months. There’s a lag-time between your opt-out and the halt of offers because your name may still appear on older lists provided to credit and insurance companies.
- Opt-Out Permanently. You may also choose to opt-out permanently, but doing so requires an extra step. In addition to the online form on OptOutPrescreen.com, you must also print out, sign, and mail in documentation stating your preference. While OptOutPrescreen.com waits for you to return the physical form, you are automatically added to the five-year opt-out list, and are moved to the permanent opt-out list when your physical form is received.
- Opt-In: If you have opted out of receiving firm offers of credit or insurance at any point, you can simply fill out a form to opt back in if you wish. Your request is processed within five business days of its receipt.
- Semi-Permanent or Permanent Removal From Specified Lists. You can cut down on the junk mail you receive by opting out of lists for firm offers of credit or insurance. This can also reduce the likelihood you are a victim of identity theft.
- Only Service Backed by All Four Consumer Credit Reporting Companies. There is no other online service that works with all four consumer credit reporting companies to manage opt-in and opt-out requests.
- Simple Interface. There’s nothing fancy about this website – it does what it’s expected to do. Simply fill out the online form and click submit.
- Reduces Junk Mail. By opting out, you receive less unsolicited junk mail. This doesn’t happen overnight – it takes five business days for requests to be processed, and even then you may continue receiving pre-approval offers if your name shows up on older lists – but in time, the offers stop.
- Reduces Risk of Identity Theft. Pre-approval offers for credit cards can be lifted from your mail by identity thieves. This type of identity theft is usually carried out by someone you know and trust: a friend, family member, babysitter, ex-spouse, or anyone else who has access to your home or personal information. Perpetrators can lift your pre-approval notice, and given the opportunity, find the information necessary to fill out the application in your name. If you’re not currently in the market for credit or insurance, a “better safe than sorry” mentality can save you from a world of hurt. Opting-out now reduces your risk of this type of identity theft, and if there comes a point where you’d like to receive offers again, you can simply opt back in.
- “Old School” Interface. The OptOutPrescreen.com website doesn’t have a modern look or feel, which could deter some users from trusting it.
- Social Security Number Is Requested. When opting in or out, your Social Security number is requested. You’re not required to provide it, but the website states that it helps accurately process your request. This makes sense given that your credit information is based on your Social Security number, but it might deter those who don’t like providing personal information online. The website does provide a secure server and encryption services, and only displays the last four digits of your Social Security number when your process is confirmed.
- Only Removes You From Specified Lists. If you want a one-stop shop for removal from all unsolicited mailing lists, this isn’t it. Opting out through OptOutPrescreen.com only removes you from the lists provided to creditors and insurance companies by TransUnion, Equifax, Experian, and Innovis. If you want to opt-out from other forms of junk mail, you must do so through the Direct Marketing Association website. If you continue receiving unsolicited items, you have to approach each company individually to remove yourself from its list.
Unless you’re actively on the lookout for great offers from credit card companies and insurers, there’s really no reason to receive “pre-approval” letters in the mail. In addition to being a waste of resources, these letters place you at risk for identity theft, and might even tempt you to take out credit when you don’t really need it. By using OptOutPrescreen.com you can quickly and easily remove yourself from these lists, reducing your risk for a minimum of five years.
Have you opted out of receiving offers from creditors and insurance companies?