As Americans have more credit card debt than ever, the CBS News series Life & Debt is taking a close-up look at some of the ways average people are affected by debt. CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports that for recently retired people, credit cards can be a debilitating problem. And elderly people are the fastest-growing population declaring bankruptcy.
When unwanted credit card offers - especially pre-approved cards - show up in your mailbox, sometimes the temptation to spend can be great. Read on to find out where these offers come from - and how you can get your name off the agencies' lists.
Where Do All These Offers Come From?
According to the Federal Trade Commission: "many companies that solicit new credit card accounts and insurance policies use prescreening to identify potential customers for the products they offer. Prescreened offers - sometimes called "preapproved" offers - are based on information in your credit report…"
These sorts of offers usually come in the mail, but can also arrive via phone call or even e-mail.
What Can I Do About It?
Learn their language - and learn your rights. First, a pre-approved credit card or insurance offer might also be known as a prescreened or "firm" offer. You have a right to remove your name from lists that supply the companies that send you these offers. This is called Opting Out.
How Do I Opt Out?
The official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry Web site that processes requests from consumers to opt in or out of credit card offers is OptOutPrescreen.com. You can opt out right here. You can also call to opt out: 888-567-8688. The FTC has an information and tipsheet online that you can check out here.
What Opt-Out Programs Exist?
There's the National Do Not Call Registry, which you can register for by visiting www.donotcall.gov, or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. This registry also lasts five years. The Direct Marketing Association maintains a service that lets you opt out of receiving direct mail marketing for five years. To register, go to: www.the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html.