Calling 888-5-OPTOUT can save you from identity theft

A VISA debit card bearing a photo of a cat peering down through a hole in the ceiling.

Call 888-5-OPTOUT to cut the pre-approved junk mail offers. Otherwise, someone can reach in and steal your identity. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Tony Webster/Flickr)

Pre-approved credit offers no doubt litter your mailbox, particularly if you’ve recently had a bankruptcy discharged. The lure of “buy now, pay later” has ensnared many American consumers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By calling 888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688), U.S. consumers can opt out of pre-approved credit card offers with the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. This is beneficial not only for consumers looking to rebuild their credit without the need for emergency loans, but for those who would prefer to give perpetrators of identity theft less ammunition.

888-5-OPTOUT sweeps the credit card offers away

Call 888-5-OPTOUT if you’re sick of all the direct marketing lists that seem to hound you daily. No more credit card offers and no more advertisements for credit products via postal mail will show up. Call from your home phone line and be prepared to give your Social Security number. If the prospect of revealing those digits worries you, put your mind at ease – the service is recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

If you prefer, send a letter

Similar to the 888-5-OPTOUT telephone option, consumers can opt-out of pre-approved credit offers and related advertising via mail. Here’s a sample opt-out letter. Make sure that your request is sent to all three credit bureaus:

Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

901 West Bond
Lincoln, NE 68521
Attn: Consumer Services Department

Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Past confusion over 888-5-OPTOUT

Several years ago, there was a widespread e-mail message that extolled the virtues of 888-5-OPTOUT, but it did so with erroneous information. Specifically, the message claimed that a consumer would have to opt out if they didn’t want the credit bureaus from releasing their sensitive data to “anyone who requests it.” According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, this muddles elements of two federal laws, the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Essentially, the confusion comes down to whether 888-5-OPTOUT was actually connected to the former of the above laws, which it wasn’t. Thus, the controversy was somewhat minor.

The take-away here is that 888-5-OPTOUT is a useful tool for consumers. Avoid the credit card trap, avoid identity theft and perhaps you’ll be in a position where you won’t need bad credit loans.


CBS Moneywatch

Federal Trade Commission

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Opt out of junk mail

Other recent posts by Steve Tarlow