How to Opt Out of Prescreened Credit Card Offers

prescreened credit card offer envelopeA prescreened offer is a credit card or insurance offer that arrives by postal mail. It usually congratulates the receiver and implies the offer has already been approved. For people who have enough credit cards, dislike the temptation, or simply wish to receive less mail, the United States government has established a method of temporarily or permanently opting out.

Opting Out of Pre-Screened Offers

You have three different methods of opting out, some of which are more limited than others. The quickest method is opting out electronically, but the longest lasting method is opting out via snail mail.

Online Opt-Outs

Go to and scroll down to click on “Click Here to Opt-In or Opt-Out.” To opt-out electronically, you must click on the temporary option of opting out for five years. You’ll be asked to provide a name, address, social security number, and date of birth. Submit the form to complete the process and enjoy five years of less junk mail.

Postal Mail Opt-Outs

To opt-out permanently, navigate to the opt-out website, and click on the permanent option. Provide the personal information asked for, then print and mail the form to this address:

Opt-Out Department
P.O. Box 2033
Rock Island, IL 61204-2033

Once you’ve ended the session, a message is sent to the national credit reporting companies to inform them of your temporary opt-out. This temporary opt-out turns into a permanent one once your letter is received and processed. Remember to sign and date the letter before mailing it. It won’t be processed without a handwritten signature.

Telephone Opt-Outs

Like electronic opt-outs, you may not be able to opt-out permanently over the telephone. To opt-out for five years over the phone, call 1-888-567-8688 or 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

Prescreening Misconceptions

The financial world is plagued with misconceptions, but prescreening is mostly harmless for people who understand how little the word “prescreened” means.

Opting Out Stops All Offers

Opting out won’t stop all prescreened credit card and insurance offers. An opt-out prevents offers that go through a national credit reporting company. Unfortunately, some offers are sent directly to you from a list owned by the offerer or another party. In addition, it can take weeks or even months for the affected offers to trickle to a stop.

Credit Card Offers Hurt My Credit

Contrary to popular belief, prescreening doesn’t negatively impact your credit. The biggest drawback is receiving regular or even frequent credit card offers. If you respond to an offer with an application, however, your credit will be affected.

Prescreened Means Pre-Approved

The term prescreened can be misleading; it means you might be eligible to receive the offer. You must first submit an application, which shows up on a credit report in a negative light. Even pre-approved might not mean what’s implied. Most offers say something along the lines of, “You could be pre-approved!”, which isn’t promising anything either.


The United States government has made opting out of prescreened offers quick and easy. While opting out won’t stop all offers, you can take other steps to eliminate junk mail altogether. For example, most pieces of mail have fine print that details how to opt out, which usually involves a five minute phone call. If junk mail doesn’t bother you, though, just shred the mail as it arrives.

Posted on July 14, 2012 by in Credit Cards

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