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Pre-Approved Offers: What They Really Are (And How To Avoid Them)

Depending on your credit score and your buying habits, you might receive a few or a lot of pre-approved offers in the mail. But there is something else that determines whether or not you get them.

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Pre-approved doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get credit or that you will get the terms mentioned in the offer. All it means is that you are in the category of people who fit the marketing strategy of the company offering credit.

Here’s how it works.

You fit the profile of the marketing list that is sold by the credit bureaus to someone looking for more customers. Maybe your credit score is in the range they specified. Maybe your income fits what they have deemed their ideal customer. You might have a certain amount and type of debt they think makes you a good customer for them.

Or maybe you just had your credit pulled for some kind of purchase. When you apply for credit, there is a much larger chance that your information will be sold to other creditors who offer the same type of credit.

I just had it happen to one of my clients today. He applied for a mortgage and I had his credit pulled. Within a day, he got a phone call from a guy who said, “We pulled your credit.” This was a lie since I was the only one who had pulled it but the guy had a shocking amount of information about my client, including his phone number and email address.

The guy was really smooth and almost had my client applying for the same loan I am doing for him because he thought he was talking to someone in my office. When he realized they guy wasn’t working for me, he ended the call but had already given him a fair amount of personal information.

If it sounds invasive and covert, that’s because it is.

The point is that your personal information is being sold to as many people as the credit bureaus can sell it to. Even though they can’t sell your social security number, they can sell most everything else and the rest of it can probably be found on your social media sites (mother’s maiden name, birth date, first car, etc.).

So now that they have enough information about you to sound logical, they can call you or send you offers in the mail, some of which look like they are from your current creditors if you don’t look too closely. They know your credit card balances, your mortgage company, approximate credit score and plenty of other information.

Then they send you offers. The offers always sound great because they assume you will qualify for the best terms they offer. I wonder what percentage of the people who respond to the offers actually get those ideal terms. My guess is that it’s pretty low.

If you don’t qualify for their best terms, you may get a decent offer anyway. Maybe you will get a lousy offer. Or maybe you will just get an extra ding on your credit because you allowed them to pull it before they said no.

The bottom line is that pre-approved offers can be okay but it isn’t really that hard to locate the type of lenders you need so wouldn’t it be better to just locate them yourself? That way, you are in control of who you talk to and you know who you are calling instead of wondering if you are being scammed by a cold caller offering you money.

Fortunately, there is a way to stop the pre-approved offers if you don’t need extra paper for starting fires in the winter. And it’s really easy to do.

All you have to do is go to https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ and you can either opt out for 5 years or permanently. Opting out for 5 years can be done online. If you want to opt out permanently, there is a form to fill out and mail in. The website and ability to opt out are mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If you ever decide you want to receive pre-approved offers again, whether it is because you’re lonely without all that mail, need a stranger to talk to on the phone or just because you need more offers to make sure creditors are still interested, you can always opt back in.

When you opt out for 5 years, there is a really easy way to keep track of when it is time to renew. It is when you start receiving offers again. My 5 years is up and so is my volume of mail. I guess it’s time to go back in and turn off the junk mail faucet.

 

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