I can’t remember when it first began, but one day in the mail I got my first credit offer. I think it was for a $250 prepaid credit card. Only a couple of years later, I managed to get a $5000 credit limit Discover Card, my first opportunity to buy things I couldn’t afford. It was so pleasing to be able to spend money I didn’t really have – eventually I even invested close to $1000 into what eventually turned out to be a scam (Cyberwings internet hosting).
At the height of the dot com era, because I had registered a US patent, I was sent an amazing offer: an MBNA Inventor’s Mastercard with a 7% APR. You read that right. Needless to say, I wasted no time opting into that offer! Unfortunately eventually MBNA was bought and I never saw an APR below 12% again.
Seasons changed, and so did I
However since that day my credit situation has changed. Now I have a balance that I’m paying down, I’m not buying anything new if I can help it, and occasionally I switch to a new card to take advantage of a 0% balance transfer offer. To find it I just search Google or visit one of the major credit card sites and see what they have. So I no longer have a need to evaluate the newest and greatest thing sent to me.
Because I also now have a credit history, a good credit rating, and history of employment, I get more credit card offers – a lot more. I also get credit line offers, “startup capital” offers, and insurance offers. Thinking long term, that is going to add up to a stupid amount of paper they’re wasting to send these unwanted offers, and then for each I have to shred and dispose of, and it’s just another area of my life I see excess waste I want to clean up.
Additionally, with the Equifax hack, among all the other hacks in the past few years (debit cards at Target, Yahoo!, etc), I just don’t trust anyone with my data anymore.
Time to Opt-Out, Thanks to the FTC website!
So what is one to do? Look every offer’s company up individually, find their opt-out form, and hope that they actually follow through?
Fortunately, like the phone number telemarketing opt-out list, the FTC actually has done something great by giving us a Prescreened Offer opt-out list that will remove you from Equifax, TransUnion and other credit agency’s lists that are given to credit card and insurance companies. The only thing better will be the day that these companies are not allowed to collect our information and sell it without our explicit opt-in.
As the FTC website explains:
“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. “
There is a lot more information about additional opt-out lists you might be interested in. I will try to follow up with more as I have time.
I did the online signup and it was quick for the five year version. You will need to print and send your form as it says to make it permanent.
So if you’re sick of the prescreened credit offers like me –> https://www.optoutprescreen.com.
Know of other good tricks to keep your data private? Let me know in the comments!