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Companies sometimes try to get new customers by sending “prescreened” offers. Find out how prescreening works and what happens when you opt out.

What To Know About Prescreened Offers

What’s a "prescreened" or “preapproved” offer of credit or insurance?

Sometimes you might get offers for credit cards or insurance that say you've been prescreened or prequalified. You get these offers because of information in your credit report.

Here’s how it works: the credit card or insurance company decides what it takes for people to qualify for their products. They base their decision on information in people’s credit reports, like their borrowing history or 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. They also might give the credit bureau a list of potential customers and ask them to identity the people who meet their requirements.

Can prescreening hurt my credit report or credit score?

No. There will be "inquiries" on your credit report showing which companies got your information for prescreening, but those inquiries won’t hurt your credit. 

Opting Out of Getting Prescreened Offers

Can I opt out of getting these credit and insurance offers?

Yes. You can decide that you don't want to get prescreened offers of credit and insurance in the mail. If you want to opt out of those offers, you have two choices:

  • opt out for five years
  • opt out permanently

To opt out for five years: Go to or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). The major credit bureaus operate the phone number and website.

To opt out permanently: Go to or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to start the process. To complete your request, you’ll need to sign and return the Permanent Opt-Out Election form (which you get online) once you’ve started the process.

When you call or visit, 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 will be used only to process your request to opt out.

Opting out for minor children

Even though the credit bureaus don’t keep credit files on minor children, if you suspect an identity thief used your child’s information for fraud, you can submit an Opt-Out Request for them. You must send a written request to each of the credit bureaus. Your letter must include your child’s full name, address, and date of birth. Include a copy of their birth certificate, a copy of their Social Security card, a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued proof of identity.

P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013

P.O. Box 505 
Woodlyn, PA 19094-0505

Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374

Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 495
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0495

Visit to report identity theft against your minor child and to get a personalized recovery plan.

Why would someone opt out — or not?

Why opt out? Maybe you’re not looking for a new credit card or insurance policy, 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 a credit card 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 pre-selected to get the offer, you can be turned down only under limited circumstances.
  • 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 I decide to opt out, how long will it be before I stop getting prescreened offers?

Requests to opt out are processed within five days, but it may take several weeks before you stop getting prescreened offers. This is because some companies may have gotten your information before the site processed your opt-out.

Does opting out hurt my credit score?

Removing your name from prescreened lists has no effect on your credit score or your ability to apply for or get credit or insurance. 

What if I opt out and then change my mind?

You can use the same website,, or toll-free number to opt back in.

Will calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT or visiting stop all unsolicited offers of credit and insurance?

No. 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. For example, opting out won't end requests 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.

Other Opt-Out Programs

What other opt-out programs should I know about?

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 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 a lot of unwanted calls, odds are the calls are from scammers. Read about blocking unwanted calls to find out what to do about them.

You can decide what types of mail you do and don’t want from marketers. Register at the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) consumer website and choose what catalogs, magazine offers, and other mail you want to get from DMA companies. They charge a $2 processing fee, and your registration will last for 10 years. also has an Email Preference Service that lets you opt out of marketing emails. To learn more about what else you can do about unwanted email, read this article on email spam.