Have you gotten offers for credit or insurance that say you’ve been prescreened or prequalified? Typically, you’ll get these offers because of information in your credit report.
Here’s how it works: a creditor or insurance company decides what the requirements are to qualify for their products. They base the decision on information in people’s credit reports, like their borrowing and payment history, or their credit score. Then the company asks a credit bureau — like Equifax, Experian, Transunion, or Innovis — to give them a list of people in their databases whose credit reports show that they meet those requirements. The company also might give a credit bureau a list of potential customers and ask which customers meet its requirements.
Prescreening doesn’t hurt your credit score. There will be "inquiries" on your credit report showing which companies got your information for prescreening, but those inquiries won’t hurt your credit.
If you don’t want to get prescreened offers in the mail, you have two choices:
- opt out for five years: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). The major credit bureaus operate the phone number and website.
- opt out permanently: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to start the process. To complete your request, sign and return the Permanent Opt-Out Election form (which you get online).
When you call or visit optoutprescreen.com, they’ll ask for your personal information, including your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. The information you give is confidential and may be used only to process your request to opt out.
Requests to opt out are processed within five days, but it may take several weeks before you stop getting prescreened offers. That’s because some companies may have gotten your information before the site processed your opt-out request.
Opting out will not stop all unsolicited offers of credit and insurance
Calling the opt-out line or visiting the site will stop only prescreened offers that are based on lists from the major credit bureaus. You may keep getting offers for credit and insurance based on lists from other sources. Opting out also won't end mail from local merchants, religious groups, charities, professional and alumni associations, and companies that you already do business with. To stop mail from groups like these — as well as mail addressed to "occupant" or "resident" — contact each source directly.
Opting out minor children
Credit bureaus don’t keep credit files on minor children, but if you suspect an identity thief used your child’s information for fraud, submit an opt-out request for them. Send a written request to each of the credit bureaus. Your request must include your child’s full name, address, and date of birth. Include a copy of your child’s birth certificate, a copy of their Social Security card, and a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued proof of identity.
Innovis Consumer Assistance
Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft against your minor child and to get a personalized recovery plan.
Reasons to opt out — or not
Why opt out? Maybe you’re not looking for new credit or insurance, you want to limit access to your credit report information, or you want less clutter in your email or mailbox. Keep in mind that if a company’s offer isn’t based on prescreening, opting out won’t stop their mailings.
But there also might be reasons you do want these offers, especially if you’re in the market for credit or insurance.
- These offers can help you learn about what's available, compare costs, and find the best product for your needs.
- Since you were prescreened to get the offer, only under limited circumstances would you be turned down.
- The terms of prescreened offers may be more favorable than those available to the general public. In fact, some credit card or insurance products may be available only through prescreened offers.
If you change your mind
Use the same website, optoutprescreen.com, or the toll-free number, 1-888-567-8688, to opt back in.
The National Do Not Call Registry was created to stop unwanted sales calls. It’s free to register your home or cell phone number. Go to DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone you want to register. It can take up to 31 days for sales calls to stop.
If you’ve already added your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry and are still getting unwanted calls, odds are the calls are from scammers. Read about blocking unwanted calls to find out what to do about them.
Register at the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) consumer website DMAchoice.org to reduce promotional mail from marketers. It won’t stop all promotional mail, though. You ’ll pay a $4 processing fee, and your registration will last for 10 years.