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Can You Opt Out of Pre-Screened Credit Card Offers?

Many people receive pre-screened or pre-approved credit card offers on a weekly or even daily basis. Some consumers are fed up with their e-mail being clogged up with credit offers and their mailbox full of wasted paper. Others receive telemarketing offers at inopportune moments. This credit solicitation can become irritating and overwhelming; however, consumers have the legal right to opt out from most of these offers. Read on to find out how these pre-screened credit card offers work and how to opt out.

What are Pre-Approved Offers?

Pre-screened credit card offers are solicitations by credit card companies or other financial institutions that offer consumers an application for credit. These offers are based on a pre-screening policy and are sent to consumers who meet a particular criteria the financial institution has chosen. Most of these offers come by mail; however, some also arrive in an email or via a phone call. A pre-approved credit offer doesn't actually mean that a person is approved for credit. This is because most companies have to fully review a consumer's credit history prior to approving a line of credit.

How Are Pre-Screened Consumers Chosen?

Credit card companies offer pre-approved credit card offers based on a particular criteria the lender has chosen. This includes factors such as how much credit a customer has, the percentage of balance on a credit limit for other account balances, days past due, home loans, auto loans, credit counseling or bankruptcy. Typically, a creditor will choose a criteria such as a minimum credit score and ask a consumer reporting agency to create a list of consumers in their database who meet the creditor's chosen criteria. Other times, a creditor provides a list of potential customers to the consumer reporting agency, and the company then identifies customers on the list who meet the creditor's criteria. 

How Do Pre-Screened Offers Work?

Pre-approved offers are usually created from a soft pull of consumer credit reports. A soft pull is when a financial institution inquires about a consumer's credit history by checking a simple factor such as their score; however, the creditor doesn't investigate a consumer's credit history on an individual basis. Pulling hard inquiries or when a lender examines a consumer's credit file may negatively affect a credit score because it indicates that a consumer is searching for more credit. Most credit companies pull a hard pull on a customer's credit report for approval, which entails reviewing a consumer's credit file. This occurs when a consumer fills out the application and sends it to the lender online, through regular mail or over the phone and can negatively impact a person's credit score.

How to Opt Out of Pre-Screened Offers?

Customers who decide they no longer want to receive pre-approved offers from credit and insurance companies can choose between two options; they may either opt out from these offers for five years or opt out permanently. To opt out for five years, customers can either call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. To opt out permanently, consumers will also need to either call 1-888-567-8688 or visit www.optoutprescreen.com; however, they will also be required to sign a permanent opt-out election form. When visiting the site or calling, consumers must provide their personal information including their name, phone number, address, date of birth and social security number. People may also opt out through a written request to the three major consumer reporting agencies listed below. All requests must include the person's name, phone number, address, date of birth and social security number. 
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374
Opt Out
P.O. Box 919
Allen, TX 75013
Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094

How to Opt Out from Other Unsolicited Offers? 

People may also choose to opt out from other unsolicited offers that may include pre-screened credit card solicitations from telemarketers and mail and e-mail offers through the means listed below.


Consumers may opt out from telemarketing by joining the National Do Not Call Registry. This process is free to consumers, run by the federal government and can greatly decrease the amount of telemarketing calls a person receives. To opt out from telemarketers, consumers should call 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov. People who call must call from the phone number they would like to opt out. This may also require calling various times for people with multiple phone lines. A phone number is updated in the registry within 30 days. Phone numbers remain on the registry until they are removed, disconnected or reassigned to other people. Consumers may always reverse this process by calling the registry or visiting the website. 


People may opt out from receiving unsolicited commercial mail from a large number of companies for five years through the Direct Marketing Associations's Mail Preference Service. Consumers who register on this list delete their name and file from most major direct-mail marketing organizations. This can vastly reduce or completely eliminate the amount of unsolicited mail. However, consumers who opt out will continue to receive mail from companies that don't use the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. After five years have passed, the person would need to add their name once again. To register, customers may either add their name online at www.dmachoice.org or they may mail their request with a $1 check to the address listed below:
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512


The Direct Marketing Association also permits consumers to opt out from unsolicited commercial emails via their Email Preference Service. This can greatly reduce the amount of spam mail a person receives from companies that use the Direct Marketing Association's email service. Customers who want to take advantage of this option may visit www.dmachoice.org and add their name to the list. This process is free and lasts for six years.
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Yael Kent's picture

Yael Kent is a personal finance enthusiast with experience writing about credit cards, credit repair, debt, and more. In addition to being an editor at Creditnet, she has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and other financial sites.

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