Prescreen Opt-Out PDF Print E-mail

One of the best ways to prevent that sale of your information is to Opt-Out of prescreened offers of credit. Basically, by opting out, the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) will not sell your credit file information to any third parties. Opting out is pretty simple, in fact I recently did it myself, you just call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) and answer a few questions. Please note you will have to give your social security number in order to remove yourself from the credit bureaus database-for-sale, and you will not get to speak to a person at this number. A friendly female voice walks you through the entire process.

Q. Why should you do this?

A. You should keep your name of the for-sale list for a few reasons.

The first and most important is protection against Identity Theft. The Federal Trade Commission recommends you opt-out of prescreened offers for credit by calling this number because you will get less mailers and offers for credit, which result in less chances for some scumbag to steal your identity by rifling through your trash or opening your mis-directed mail. Less firm-offers of credit, means less risk... and that's good for everyone.

Opting out also means your name, credit data, social security number, and other information will not be sold to the highest bidder. That includes unscrupulous mortgage companies who might by "trigger" leads to call you and disguise themselves as a representative of the company who just took your loan application. It also means less offers for pre-approved credit cards that someone could steal and accept on your behalf.

By opting out, you are protecting yourself, lessening your junk mail, lessening the number of telemarketing calls you receive, and lessening your chances of identity theft. Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

The credit bureaus will try to tell you that its a good thing being on these lists, because you will get offers of credit that you might not otherwise know about. But I ask you, don't you know when you need a new mortgage or credit card? Don't you know when its time to shop for a better insurance policy? Opting out will not reduce or inhibit your ability to apply for any loan, credit card, line of credit, job, or complete any other form or application that requires a credit check. All it does it prevent people from checking your credit without your consent. How can that be bad?

Of course the credit bureaus are going to try and tell you remaining on prescreened credit lists and not opting out is a good thing. It is a good thing, FOR THEM. They make tons of money selling your personal information to virtually anyone who is willing to pay for it. Who is that really helping?

UPDATE: Anecdotally I can tell you that a number of people in the mortgage business also swear that you will get between a 5 and 15 point credit score increase by Opting Out. There is no guarantee of this, nor is there any official confirmation from the credit bureaus... but they don't like confirming much of anything when it comes to their business. A number of people from Operations Managers to Regional Managers, Underwrites and Account Execs have all reported to me that consumers who opt-out can indeed expect to see a slight increase in score in a month or two.

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