It turns out that it pays to read the fine print. Not a day passes that I don’t get at least one junk mail enticement to sign up for a credit card. Airlines, hotels, associations, the credit card companies themselves – they send out probably billions of these offers every year.
However, you can get off their lists, off their bull’s-eye. The answer, it happens, is right there in plain sight – if you take the time to read the fine print.
Those terms and conditions statements that accompany the mailings include instructions for opting out of what is called “pre-screened offers.” “Pre-screening” means that the credit card issuer has checked your credit rating and decided you might, could, maybe qualify for this card. The wording is “weasely” because they don’t want to be sued if you apply and it turns out you’re a deadbeat.
But they have to check with the credit bureaus to determine your credit-worthiness, and you can instruct those bureaus to tell the credit companies “no thanks.” Here’s how:
Equifax Options, PO Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
Experian Target Marketing, PO Box 919, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Opt out Request, PO Box 505, Woodlyn, PA 19094-0505
It will take some time for your name to be purged from the lists, and for the junk-mail flood to diminish, as these companies line up mailings like bullets in a machine gun belt. Meanwhile, always shred these offers, as they can be used in identity theft schemes. Also, when you apply for things like hotel loyalty programs, always check the no-solicitation options to forestall getting back on new lists.