Prescreened or preapproved offers for new credit card accounts and insurance policies are a staple in many people’s mailboxes. Some folks chuck them without even opening the envelope; others carefully read through the materials before taking action and many people are not certain exactly what to do.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to consider when deciding whether to respond to prescreened offers of credit and insurance.
Prescreened solicitations can arrive via mail, but you may also receive them in a phone call or in an e-mail. Before responding, make certain you have verified the legitimacy of the company making the offer. Contact the BBB for a report at www.bbb.org.
Prescreened offers are based on information in your credit report that indicates you meet criteria set by the business making the offer. Typically, the creditor or insurer has worked with a credit reporting company to devise a list of people that meet a minimum credit score or other criteria.
Prescreening does not hurt your credit record. While there will be inquiries on your credit report showing which companies obtained your info for prescreening, such inquiries will not have a negative effect on your credit score.
If you prefer to reduce or eliminate the number of unsolicited credit and insurance offers that you receive, you have a couple of choices. You can opt out of receiving them for five years or permanently by using methods provided by the major credit reporting agencies. You may call toll-free to 888-567-8688 or visit www.optoutprescreen.com for details. Be aware that you will be asked to provide certain personal information including your Social Security number so make certain you have dialed correctly or entered the correct URL in your browser. The info you provide is confidential and will only be used to process your “opt out” request. I should also point out that the above contact information can also be used to “opt in” to the prescreened offers. However, we don’t usually hear from many consumers who are upset that they do not receive enough mail.
Removing your name from prescreened lists will not affect your ability to apply for or obtain credit or insurance. Also be aware that this may not stop all prescreened offers since some companies utilize the lists from trade associations instead of the credit reporting agencies but you will see a drastic reduction in these offers.
For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org.
Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc., serving 41 counties in Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River area. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at 478-742-7999, www.bbb.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.