Stop Credit Card Junk Mail

Tips for minimizing unsolicited preapproved credit card offers: Visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5OPTOUT to remove your name from prescreened lists (make sure you’re on the right site—your Social Security number is required) Stop telemarketers from calling you by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov) Reduce credit card spam by tightening your email account’s spam filtering options (mark offers as “spam”)

Image by Nusha Ashjaee © The Balance 2020

Pre-approved credit card offers can get annoying, especially when you're not in the market for a new card. Since most people shop for and compare credit cards online these days, there's virtually no reason to receive credit card offers via mail. However, they're still very prevalent, and many people find their mailboxes and email inboxes filled with offers.

How to Opt-Out

Fortunately, federal law gives you the right to opt-out of credit card prescreening. You can visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to remove your name from prescreened lists for five years or indefinitely. By opting out, you're telling the credit bureaus that you don't want your information sold to credit card companies.

You'll need to provide your name and address to confirm your identity. Your Social Security number is optional but may help the credit bureau process your request. Before entering your Social Security number, confirm that you're on the correct website. Look for an "https://" at the beginning of the hyperlink and a lock in the address bar, indicating that you're on a secure website. You can also opt-in again by calling or visiting the website if you'd like to receive credit offers in the future.

Opting out of credit card offers doesn't affect your credit score.

Stopping Telemarketers

Some credit-related telemarketers may call you to sign up for credit card insurance, interest rate reduction programs, or other marketing-related services. These services are often scams to get your payment information for identity theft or to enroll you in services that you don't need. You can stop telemarketers from contacting you by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry is free and eliminates all the telemarketing calls you receive, not just the ones you receive from credit card companies and other related services. You can register your phone number by going to www.donotcall.gov.

Existing credit card issuers may still contact you related to existing accounts or to offer other credit-related products and services.

Stopping Emails

With so many scammers on the internet, it's difficult to determine whether a credit card offer you receive via email is legitimate. Even if you're interested in the credit card, you shouldn't apply for it by clicking the email because it could be a phishing scam to get your personal information. You can reduce credit card spam by increasing the spam filters on your email account.

Marking the offers as spam can teach your email system to recognize those types of emails as junk mail and stop delivering them to your inbox. Many email service providers also allow you to block emails from specific email addresses. Exploring those settings will prevent the emails from making it to your inbox.

Benefits of Eliminating Credit Card Mailings

Not only does eliminating mailings from credit card companies reduce the amount of mail you receive and the amount of wasted paper coming into your home, but it can also prevent identity theft. For example, if you don't shred the credit card offers and applications before throwing them away, a thief could steal the application from the trash, mail it in, and intercept the card. It could be months, or even years, before you discover the violation, especially if you don't regularly monitor your credit report.

How Credit Card Companies Find You

Many credit card offers are sent based on a credit bureau prescreening. The credit card issuer sends a request to the credit bureaus asking for a list of consumers who meet specific criteria, and then sends out credit card offers based on that list. If you're one of the potential borrowers that meet the criteria, you would likely receive a credit card offer. The mailing process is perfectly legal, so complaining to a government agency won't fix your problem.

It May Not Eliminate All Mail

While these steps should stop the majority of unsolicited credit card mail, it may not eliminate them completely. You may continue to receive offers from companies you already do business with, like your current credit card issuers, as well as companies that do not go through the prescreening process.

Article Sources

  1. Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Credit Reporting Act § 605A. Identity theft Prevention; Fraud Alerts and Active Duty Alerts," Page 35. Accessed Mar. 20, 2020.

  2. OptOutPrescreen. "Home." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  3. Federal Trade Commission. "Prescreened Credit and Insurance Offers." Accessed March 14, 2020.

  4. Federal Trade Commission. "National Do Not Call Registry." Accessed March 14, 2020.

  5. Federal Trade Commission. "How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams." Accessed March 14, 2020.