Are you noticing the number of credit card offers in your mailbox increasing from a small trickle to a steady flow? Credit card companies are starting to ramp up their marketing efforts, and offers of low interest rate cards, rewards cards and airline mile cards are once again becoming more plentiful.
You may welcome these offers if you're shopping around for a card with a better rate or for one that offers you a better way to accumulate points, cash back or similar rewards. But if you're like many Americans, you may want the credit card companies to stop sending you those unsolicited offers.
There are many reasons why people want the credit card offers to stop. There's a green angle-unwanted mail is a waste of paper and of the gasoline that it takes to deliver these offers to you. In addition, if your mailbox isn't secure, a credit card offer could leave you open for identity fraud if thieves steal the letters out of your mailbox. Or maybe you're simply trying to put yourself on a credit diet, and don't need the constant temptation of low or no-interest balance transfer cards appearing in your mailbox each day.
If you're ready to "Just Say No" to mail offers, the Federal Trade Commission has some advice on how to do it. Here's a summary of their suggestions:
The four major credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax and Innovis) have made the opt-out process relatively simple. They've set up a toll-free number and a website that you can use to make your request.
But before you call or visit the website, you have a choice to make. Do you want to stop the offers for five years, or do you want to stop them permanently? The process is slightly different for each scenario.
If you prefer the five-year ban on credit card offers, simply go to www.optoutprescreen.com or call the toll-free number (1-888-5-OPT-OUT). Be prepared to provide your name, address, social security number and date of birth so that your request can be processed correctly.
If you want to permanently stop credit card companies from approaching you with mailed offers, you can start at the website www.optoutprescreen.com, but you'll have to confirm your request by printing and filling out a form and then mailing it to the address that the site provides.
You can also send a written request to each of the major credit reporting bureaus asking that your name be permanently removed from any credit card offer lists. The FTC website provides the addresses of all four bureaus. In your opt-out request letter, you need to include your name, date of birth, Social Security Number and home telephone number.
While going through the credit bureaus should stop the credit card offers by mail, you may also want to add your name to the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service (MPS). You can ask that your name be put on an "opt-out" list that direct marketers can consult before they send out commercial offers via mail or email. You can find out more at www.dmachoice.org.
If telemarketers are constantly interrupting your days or evenings with sales pitches for credit cards or other goods and services, you can also register on federal government's Do Not Call registry. Visit www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register to ask that your number be removed. While this may not stop all the calls you get, you should see a substantial reduction in the number of unsolicited calls that you get.