How do banks and insurance companies know to send you credit card and insurance-policy offers? Because banks and insurance companies buy your personal information from consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”), which are glad to sell your information and profit from it. To the CRAs, you are the product—not a user, not a customer. The CRAs monetize your personal information that companies pay the CRAs to collect, coordinate, and synthesize. But you do have a limited right to control the sale of your personal information by the CRAs without your permission, and to stop the junk mail and spam credit card and insurance offers.
How to Opt-Out
Straight from the FTC, here’s how you can opt out of unwanted junk mail and the uncompensated sale of your personal information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FRCA”) gives you the right to “opt out” of prescreened offers of credit, which are what the credit card and insurance offers cluttering you mailbox and inbox are called.
To opt out for five years: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). The major credit bureaus operate the phone number and website.
To opt out permanently: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to start the process. To complete your request, you’ll need to sign and return the Permanent Opt-Out Election form (which you get online) once you’ve started the process.
When you call or visit optoutprescreen.com, they’ll ask for your personal information, including your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. The information you give is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out.
Opting out for minor children
Even though the credit bureaus don’t keep credit files on minor children, if you suspect an identity thief used your child’s information for fraud, you can submit an Opt-Out Request for them. You must send a written request to each of the credit bureaus. Your letter must include your child’s full name, address, and date of birth. Include a copy of their birth certificate, a copy of their Social Security card, a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued proof of identity.
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If you opt out online, please be aware that your first option is to opt in. You must affirmatively change the selection to opt out. After you opt out, you will get a confirmation screen affirming you selection and date of your selection. SCREEN SHOT AND SAVE the confirmation screen. This is important to verify that you opted out and to prove that you did so in the not so-unlikely event that the CRAs fail to honor the opt out.
According to the FCRA, the opt out should go into effect within five days of your election to opt out. But the CRAs may continue to sell personal information in spite of your denial of that right to them. If you continue to get prescreen credit card and insurance offers, if there are “soft” promotional inquiries by banks and insurance companies on your credit reports after you opt out, you have the right to sue the CRAs for violating your rights and profiting from your personal information. You can recover statutory damages of up to $1,000 for these violations.
If a CRA has violated your right to control the sale of your personal information, please call or email us today. We can help. We work on a strict contingency basis such that we only get paid if we win or settle. We take the entire risk of loss.