How To Avoid Pre-Screened Offers Of Credit

Joseph writes in with a helpful reminder:

Now might be a good time to remind people that they can opt-out of pre-screened offers of credit. In light of the HSBC debacle I’ve been victim of, I checked out my credit report yesterday. I was amazed at how often the major credit card companies (AMEX, Capital One, Bank of America, etc…) access my credit history in order pre-screen me for promotional purposes. Consumers can opt-out at:

“HOWTO: Stop the Direct Marketers”


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  1. iEddie says:

    I had heard somewhere that this will not stop Capital One from sending you offers, because Capital One doesn’t play by the rules. I have no idea if it’s true or not.

  2. Mollyg says:

    I have tried to use three times in the last 4 years and the offers still come. It is not that great of a service.

  3. Parting says:

    Is this even legal? Ain’t your score affected every time a company pre-screens you?

    (I never had any pre-screening check-ups in Equifax report, but it’s maybe because I’m in Canada, and companies play by a different set of rules.)

  4. ShortBus says:

    @Mollyg: @iEddie: This isn’t going to stop all credit card offers. It stops the offers that come from tolling your credit report. Essentially what marketers will do is ask Experian/Equifax/TransUnion: “Give me the names and addresses of everyone living in ZIP codes x, y, and z that have a credit score between 550-600.” These people then get mailings that try to push “rebuilder cards”. Or they might ask for people with scores about 660 so they can send them offers for their prime cards.

    I opted out via the 800 number about 6 months ago and it’s had a *dramatic* affect on the number of offers I get. You can confirm your status if you pull your credit report. It will be noted towards the bottom of the file.

  5. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:


    Anytime you view your own credit report, or a company views your credit report for a “pre-screening” offer, it does not affect your score.

    The only thing that affects your score (inquiry-wise) is when you initiate an inquiry for an application (Employment, rentals, credit, etc)

  6. Mollyg says:

    I have just checked all three of my credit reports, and none of them have any pre-screened opt-out status on them, despite my repeated attempts to opt-out. The credit offers that I get all mention that I can opt-out of them. Obviously the opt-out process is not perfect, or there is some fraud. Or both.

  7. sgrady11 says:

    Hmm. Put my social security number and birthdate into some website?

    I don’t know about that.

  8. miball says:

    I think if you have your credit locked down, that they can no longer pull your credit score? Someone correct me if I am wrong.

  9. Taxidiotis says:

    I’d suggest that people refrain from using the optoutprescreen site. Why would they want you to give them your private info (SS# inclusive) if you choose to opt out by mail and not electronically?

  10. chiieddy says:

    @Mollyg: It doesn’t show on your report. It’s more like the do not call list for phone solicitation. It’s also only good for 5 years. It’s also not going to stop people who you already have a relationship with to sell you name to third party providers who then turn around and offer you a card. For that, you have to opt out of each provider separately. Information for that is provided separately in your annual privacy statement and is not connected to this opt-out request.

  11. Ailu says:

    I’ve re-opted out at every time I’ve had an address change (3 times in the past 10 years). And I haven’t had a credit card solicitation in years, thankfully.

  12. ampersand says:

    I had no idea this service existed. Thanks, Consumerist!

  13. ToadKillerDog says:

    So does opting out reduce the risk of ID theft? Is there any hard documentation that it does or does not? Inquiring minds want to know.

  14. humphrmi says:

    @ToadKillerDog: Depends. Do you move a lot? Want those pre-screened “Sign here and get a card” offers in someone else’s hands? Like the next tenant in your last apartment?

    Also, do you religiously shred every offer that comes in before you throw them out?

    If you answered Yes to the first question, you should probably prevent pre-screened offers. Same if you answered No to the second.

    There’s probably a few other scenarios I’m missing.

  15. azntg says:

    In my case (and my parents for that matter), no need to apply for this. Prescreened credit offers stopped for me after subprime lending practices caught everybody’s eyes.

    The only credit offers I get is for a Visa card aimed at college students.

    Yes I’m a college student with <$10k income, but I can’t help but laugh as I shred the paper offering me a cheesy design $500 card with a $75 AF when I already have 3 no-AF cards with a CLs totalling $12,600 (even higher if I ask for a CLI upon activation for one card).

  16. lainykai says:

    I opted out about 4 years ago via the 1-800 number. It has been wonderful! I always felt uneasy about throwing those things out so I ended up with a lot of clutter. If I want a credit card, I’ll apply for one. Now my junk mail is significantly reduced. Pretty nice.

  17. HooFoot says:

    I opted out recently. Not sure if it is coincidental, but the week after I opted out, I received an avalanche of credit cards in the mail. It’s as if the credit reporting agencies notified the credit card companies to spam me while they still could.

  18. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Funny that you mentioned Capital One in the intro paragraph, because…

    Capital One sends them regardless of how much you don’t want them and without regard to you filling out the form.

    Pretty much all of the companies stopped within about a month or 6 weeks, but Capital One continues to send them, now about a year after we originally filled out the information on the website.

    I will never do business with them because of this.

  19. IssaGoodDay says:

    I get about 6 offers a week. On average, 5 of them are from Capital One. Can we find grounds for reporting them to the BBB?

  20. humphrmi says:

    @sourc3: What good does the BBB do anyway? You report an issue, they give it to the vendor to respond, if the vendor responds (good or bad) they mark 100% compliance. The BBB is not the end-all-be-all for consumer complaints. They’re just a clearing house.

    If you request to not be bothered by this shit, report them to the FTC and your local AG. At least they care.

  21. nonzenze says:

    sourc3 – I don’t think you have a right not get an offer. Just ignore the offer in your smug satisfaction that they wasted $.12 (average direct mail cost IIRC).

  22. Gaambit says:

    Well, let me be the (almost) first to say that I think the site has actually worked for me. The last one I seem to recall receiving was about two weeks ago, from Wachovia (whom I used to bank with, so maybe there was some internal mailing list they went from). Before that, I can’t recall when the last time was I received a pre-approved notice. Compare that to my wife, who has not used opt-out: in the last week, I’ve thrown away at least six junk mail pre-approvals for her (she gets this one credit card app. with Disney characters on it at least once a month). Having opted out saves me the time of having to shred all of those notices, not to mention the waste. I recommend it.

  23. jacques says:

    I originally was getting 2-3 offers a day. I opted out, which brought it down to 1-2 per week after a few months (getting it out of their mailing system). Those few that kept coming were capital one and airlines cards for AA and UAL. I called the number, spent 5 minutes on hold with each, asked them politely to take me off their mailing lists, and voila! No more offers. Not a one-step process, but I haven’t gotten one in almost 2 years.

  24. QuirkyRachel says:

    FYI, there’s a gov web site in the FTC that mentions this service here: []

  25. pigeonpenelope says:

    i’m really weary about giving a company my ssn and other info.

  26. MissTic says:

    I think Crap One skirts around the law. Perhaps because they can still solict you if you’ve had (or still have) and account with them?

  27. I have to say, I clicked the link, started the process, and then said, “I do not know this site from Adam, and I’m gonna give them my SSN?” So, no go.

  28. SacraBos says:

    @PotKettleBlack: I understand your hesitation, and fully support your inner cynic. Go to the site referenced above, if that makes you feel more comfortable. It is legit, but you don’t know me from Adam either, That link will enable you to do your own due diligence.

  29. LissaKay says:

    Fed up with the massive amount of mail he was getting from Capital One, a friend of mine decided to fight back. He saved up all the offer mails for three months. He went through it all and tore out anything that had his name or address on it, or potential identifying codes or numbers. Then, using one of their prepaid return envelopes taped to the outside of a large envelope, he sent it all back to them. On their dime.

    Not effective in slowing it down, or even giving them a hint, but satisfying, nonetheless.

  30. timmus says:

    Hate to say it, but I bet the minimum wage dude just chucked the mail stack into the bin without a second thought.

  31. Rusted says:

    @Mollyg: It’s also hosted by GoDaddy, so that’s an automatic no go for me.

  32. SayAhh says:

    The only credit card offers I’m still getting are the ones that branded with my place of employment. That’s shady, because I don’t “do business” with my job, I “work there”…

  33. aldo37 says:

    I filled this out and did this a few weeks ago and my mail has dropped by alot. I’ve only gotten one Costco Amex offer in the past three weeks.

  34. Bozman8 says:

    This site is recommended by the Federal Trade Commission. I think it takes some time (maybe a few months) before the offers stop.

  35. vladthepaler says:

    NB only name and addres are *required* on the site; they ask for SSN and phone number but those fields are not required, and it is possible to submit a request without them.