Stop unwanted credit card applications

Pen on credit card papers

Are you tired of having to shred those pesky preapproved credit card applications you get in the mail every month?

Are you worried about one being stolen out of your mailbox and a fraudulent account being opened in your name?

Here's how you can stop most, if not all, of those mailings.

With our billfolds already bulging with credit cards, we shouldn't have to worry about this.

But banks and stores mail billions of these solicitations every year.

Begin by calling the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry "Opt-in and Opt-out" number at 888-567-8688. You will be asked for your home phone number, name, address, Social Security number and date of birth, and a form will be mailed to you. Fill it out, send it back and the mailings will stop.

Or you can go online to register. Your name will be removed for five years.

If you want your name permanently removed, you'll have to select "permanent opt-out" on the opt-out website.

That also requires you to print out a confirmation, sign it and mail it in. A five-year ban will be instituted until the signed form is received. At that time, your request will be made permanent. It will take about 60 days for the solicitations to stop.

If at any time you wish to begin receiving solicitations again, you can rescind your decision on the OptOutPrescreen website by clicking on the "Opt-In" options.

This service, however, only applies to mail that is based on data provided by the major credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion) -- primarily credit card and insurance solicitations.

You may still get solicitations from other sources, such as local businesses and religious, charitable, professional and alumni associations. To stop mail from groups like these, you'll have to contact each source directly.

To limit unsolicited offers from businesses, go to the Direct Marketing Association's DMAChoice website. This is similar to the "do not call" list that was initiated to try to harness telemarketers. You'll have to create an account in order to state how you want to limit catalogs, magazine offers and other types of direct mail.

You can also register to halt direct-mail solicitations through standard mail, although you'll still have to download the form. Send the completed form with a $1 fee via check or money order to: Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

The ban will be in effect for three years and will stop mailings from any association member.

Unfortunately, the mail from local businesses, schools and so forth will probably just keep coming.

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