I was just reading a blog called Hot Water Bath. Marsha was complaining that she is getting many credit card pre-approval letters, often numerous offers per day. I was then moved to write her an email. I have turned it into a blog post.
Did you ever wonder how a company knows that you are a person that they’d like to open a credit card account with? Did you assume they send out random letters to everyone, just based on knowing your name and your residence address? That is not how they do it.
The starting point is the credit bureaus. The three credit bureaus collect your personal information and compile it into a “credit report”. Most people already know that.
But did you know that the credit bureau’s actually SELL your supposedly confidential information to each company that you are getting letters from? It is true. Yes, they are making money off of your supposedly private information. Does that bother you?
Also, that means also that employees of said companies have access to your supposedly confidential information. Now I do not know if this information is processed by computers and not humans but I don’t want anyone or any data bank gathering, analyzing, and storing my confidential information (what if someone hacks their computers?)
Think about it: if you get three offers per week, that means that three credit card companies who have looked at your data and decided you are the type of customer they are looking for. After all, they don’t usually target their marketing to poor credit risks—they look for people who fit a certain demographic, those who own a home, perhaps, or a home worth a certain amount (known by the amount of the mortgage on your credit report). They also of course look at your credit history, how often you make late payments vs. pay your bills on time.
I have two issues with this:
1. For each offer that you or I get we are now opened up to multiple opportunities PER COMPANY to have our identity stolen
2. Why should the credit bureau make money off of our confidential information---which----by the way---they want to charge US to view just to see if there are any errors on their part or if anyone is actively stealing/using our identity?
Another thing to think about: I think we should all be given at least two free credit reports per year to monitor errors and to monitor for identity theft. However, the last I knew, some companies were charging $60 or more per year to individual people (not to the whole family) to have unlimited access to view their credit reports throughout the year.
Back to this selling of your private information and the pre-approved credit card offers…
In a very easy step you can contact all three credit bureaus and tell them to remove you from their marketing list. I can’t remember the official phrase for what you are to ask for but they use some term.
I am very sensitive to these credit bureau issues as my identity was stolen in December 1999 while Christmas shopping for a toy for my oldest child, by a cashier in a retail local store. That same, old information was used again in July 2003 and then in December 2005. So I am still fighting an identity theft battle that all started in 1999. And again, none of it had anything to do with the Internet, which most people think is the number one way that personal information gets stolen—well that was not my experience.
In the middle of that process about dealing with my identity theft, I found out about the credit card pre-approval thing where they sell our data and boy did that tick me off.
So if you want to put a stop to these pre-approved credit card offers, I would suggest that you ask the 3 credit bureaus to stop selling your data and it will:
1. Not let them make money off your private data
2. Protect you from identity theft in one way
3. Save some trees/paper
4. Save a little from the trash heap or the recycle plant
5. Stop annoying you when you receive them, if it bothers you
In case you don’t believe me, I have found this site which gives this same information that I already knew about. This site has the names of the three credit bureaus in America and tells how to contact them by snail mail or by phone. If my memory serves me correctly you can do this request over the phone by telling or pressing touch-tone buttons on your phone after calling the credit bureau’s on the phone. They will be asking your social security number and other private information—that is normal and necessary, so have your data handy when you make the call.
Technorati Tags: credit report, credit bureau, identity theft, protect against identity theft, pre-approved credit card offer.