Have you ever “really” opened and read any of the thousands of pieces of junk mail you receive in your US Postal mail box every week? Especially those marked “Approved” or “Confidential”?
Like me, I’m sure you’ve just tossed them in the garbage without even to bother to open them knowing it’s just Credit Card companies, Insurance companies, or Automobile companies advertising with offers of lower interest rates, lower insurance premiums, or auto dealer rebates, etc. Next time you receive one of these claiming a “Prescreened” offer, read the PRESCREEN & OPT-OUT NOTICE usually found as the last paragraph of the last page.
Two weeks ago I decided to open, for whatever reasons, a “Prescreened” Offer marked envelope from a major automobile insurance company, and actually read the PRESCREEN & OPT-OUT NOTICE at the bottom of the last page, which reads:
“PRESCREEN & OPT-OUT NOTICE: This “prescreened” offer of insurance is based on information in your credit report indicating that you meet certain criteria. This offer is not guaranteed if you do not meet additional underwriting criteria. If you do not want to receive prescreened offers of insurance from this and other companies, call the consumer reporting agencies toll-free at 1-888-567-8688; or visit the website at http://www.optoutprescreen.com; or write them individually at: Experian Target Marketing, PO Box 919, 701 Experian Parkway B2, Allen, TX 75013; Equifax Options, PO Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123; Trans Union Opt Out Request, PO Box 505, Woodlyn, PA 19094-0505.”
My first thought was, “Who gave permission to this insurance company to request my credit report? I know it wasn’t me. I never done any company comparisons or requested auto insurance quotes for any company by phone, online, or otherwise, so where did this company get my permission, and since I never signed any credit check authorization form, why would any of the above three credit reporting agencies give my credit information?
Each time your credit report is requested your credit score drops unless you yourself are checking your annual credit report which is free once per year. Now, think about how many of these companies may be requesting your credit report for all of these “prescreened” offers your receiving in your US Postal mail box that you didn’t approve or give permission, how is that affecting your credit score?
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA), which is a federal law that mandates the rules and regulations for the credit reporting industry to protect each consumer’s private information by restricting credit report access only to those who have “permissible purpose” to conduct a credit inquiry. These permissible purpose credit inquiries are limited to Banks, Credit Card Companies, Prospective Employers, Debt Collectors, Landlords, and Companies a consumer does business with. The FCRA prohibits the credit bureaus from releasing credit history to any company or individual that does not have permissible purpose to view it, and in doing such gives the legal right to file a lawsuit which requested the credit report without permission.
The term “permissible purpose” is other reasons your credit report might be pulled. Keep in mind, you do not have to give written permission to someone so they can access your report if it falls under “permissible purpose” categories which are: Child Support, Legitimate Business Need, License Eligibility, Insurance Underwriting, or Court Order.
I don’t see any legal right these “Prescreened” Offer inquiries have to be able to obtain my credit report without permission, not even considering the term Legitimate Business Need. It’s not a Legitimate Business Need of any company to conduct a credit check for the purpose of screening for possible business leads or possible new clients, and I don’t feel consumers should have to call, write, or go online in order to opt out with the credit reporting agencies when they are giving out private information illegally, without permission, to begin with.
My first step is writing a letter to the company that mailed the “Prescreened” Offer to me. Ironically enough, the letter I received didn’t even have this Auto Insurance company’s address. I had to go online and find their headquarters mailing address. The letter was signed by the Assistant Vice President, so, therefore, I directed my letter to him, outlining the FCRA rules and regulations and requesting the copy of the consent form containing my signature which gave this company permission to request my credit report.
The next step I intend to take will be to contact the Federal Bureau that is responsible for enforcing these rules and regulations, along with researching for an attorney that would be interested in filing a law suit against both the insurance company and against each of the three credit reporting agencies.
Ironically, I received an email from Credit Karma today informing me that I was able to perform an annual free credit check. In doing so I found two other corporations, a bank and a credit card company, requested my credit report with Experian and Trans Union in December last year, neither of which have I applied for credit with. I immediately disputed both through Credit Karma which makes the process relatively easy.
Take advantage of the free annual credit check and dispute anything that you know you’ve not requested or authorized. Credit scores are a major factor today and these companies randomly pulling credit checks for the purpose of possible new customer selection isn’t fair to consumers working hard to increase their scores and losing points because of this. There are laws and need to be enforced and I think it’s time consumers unite to fight against unauthorized credit report requests by these companies.
I intend to post an update blog once I research and obtain information that I can share.