At Treadstone, nothing makes us more frustrated than the fact that pulling a client’s credit report gives the 3 major credit bureaus the legal right to sell your information to other companies. You will also experience this when you open a credit card or finance a new car. Don’t worry—they don’t get your social security information, they only know that you had your credit pulled, what it was pulled for, your credit score, and your published contact information. Once your information is sold you will see an influx of pre-approved offers and solicitations from creditors, lenders, and insurance companies using the data provided by the credit bureaus.
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What is the Opt-Out Pre-Screen?
If you don’t want to receive unsolicited offers, the Opt-Out Pre-Screen is essentially a way to remove your name and contact information from lists that companies use to send out credit offers. The Opt-Out Pre-Screen is a service commissioned by the United States Congress but managed and operated by three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
By opting out of pre-screened offers, you will no longer receive pre-approved offers and solicitations.
How Do I Opt-Out?
There are two main ways to Opt-Out of pre-screened offers:
ONLINE OPT-OUT: 5 YEARS
The online option is the easiest, but only lasts for 5 years. Using the Opt-Out Pre-Screen website, you can submit your information for removal from the bureaus’ distribution lists. Once your information is submitted and processed, you should not receive any creditor solicitation, sourced directly from the credit bureaus, for a term of five years. After five years have lapsed, you will have to submit another request.
MAIL-IN OPT-OUT: INDEFINITELY
The only difference between the online and mailed declarations is the length of time the decision is active—that’s it! The mail-in option is the only way to Opt-Out indefinitely.
To get the required form to mail, you’ll need to submit your information at the Opt-Out Pre-Screen website. There, it will generate a form for you to print and mail.
After your form is received and processed by the credit bureaus, you should no longer receive pre-approved offers from creditors, lenders, or insurance companies sourced with information from a credit bureau after your submission date. While some companies may still use previously-acquired data for several months, don’t worry. This is normal and you may still receive some offers.
Opt-Out Pre-Screen Frequently Asked Questions
WHY ARE OPT-OUTS ONLY PERMANENT IF MAILED?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that the Opt-Out process must be accompanied by a signed “notice of election.” When you submit your decision to Opt-In or Opt-Out online, the bureaus fill out a request for you, which is not legally binding. For the decision to be permanent, you must complete and mail your own form.
DOES OPT-OUT PRE-SCREEN WORK?
By submitting your information to the credit bureaus via the federally-required form, you will be removed from all pre-screened offers sent by third-party creditors and insurance companies.
WILL OPT-OUT PRE-SCREEN RAISE OR LOWER MY CREDIT SCORE?
Whether you Opt-In or Opt-Out of pre-approved offers from creditors or insurance companies, your credit profile and score are not affected. The pre-screened offers are not hard inquiries on your credit profile, so they do not have an effect.
IS OPT-OUT PRE-SCREEN SAFE?
Yes! The Opt-Out Pre-Screen was required by the U.S. Congress under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and is managed jointly by the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion).
CAN I OPT-IN AFTER OPTING-OUT OF THE PRE-SCREENED OFFERS?
Yes, by using the same digital or physical form to Opt-Out, you may re-elect to Opt-In.
HOW LONG IS THE OPT-OUT OPTION GOOD FOR?
Either 5 years or indefinitely, depending on your submission type. When you Opt-Out from pre-screened offers online, your decision will be effective for 5 years. If you Opt-Out using a mailed form, your election will be permanent.
Do you have more questions? We’re happy to help!