Pre-approved credit card offers in your mailbox could be plainly annoying especially if you are not actively looking for a new credit card.
Fortunately, there is a FTC approved website that will allow you to stop these mail-in prescreened or prequalified offers for credit and insurance.
OptOutPrescreen.com is a website operated by the major consumer credit reporting companies, namely, Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Transunion, and it provides a service for opting in or out of these so-called "firm offers" from credit and insurance companies.
There are three requests available through their website. The first is "Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers for Five Years." Second is "Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers permanently." The third option is for opting back in if you've previously opted out either for a five-year duration or permanently.
The requests are submitted via the website's online form that collects your name, address, date of birth, and your social security number securely. (If you are not comfortable inputting this info online, the FTC's consumer information page lists this toll-free number, 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or 1-888-5-567-8688, as an alternative.)
Opt-ins and five-year opt outs can be completed solely by the online electronic requests but with permanent opt-outs, the requester will have to return a signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form by mail.
This is all convenient and useful for consumers like us but why does this service exist in the first place? That's because it is required by law.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), consumers have the right to opt out of lists that provide credit card information (ex. personal info, credit scores, credit reports) used for making firm offers for credit and insurance. On the flipside, under this same act, the consumer credit card companies are permitted to use your information for firm offers not initiated by you.
Will opting out affect your credit score or your credit or insurance applications? The FTC and the credit card reporting companies assure us that exercising this consumer right will have no effect on your ability to apply for credit or insurance and as provided by the website, opting back in is always an option.