Should I prohibit unauthorized use of credit info?

Pipersville_CarolMarch 1, 2004

Over the weekend I received yet another piece of junk mail, trying to sell us huge, crushing amounts of debt. It's from All State Home Mortgage and seems to be offering a 1.95% mortgage, which must be hooey because it's too good to be true.

Anyway, in the fine print at the bottom of the letter it says "We used information in a pre-qualifying report from a credit agency in connection with this firm offer of credit. You have the right to prohibit the use of this information contained in your credit file with any credit-reporting agency for all future credit transactions not initiated by you. You may exercise this right by notifing the credit reporting agencies that provide pre-qualifying reports for your request by calling blah blah blah...."

Basically, I'm reading this to mean that I could call the two 800 numbers listed and prevent companies from looking at my credit report without my permission. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Has anyone ever heard of this? Any downside to restricting this access?

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only one downside that I can think of: you might not hear about some great credit offer.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2004 at 10:41AM
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They do not actually look at your credit report without your permission. Not directly anyhow. Here's how it works: The All State Home Mortgage Company (or any other company who wants to send out offers such as this) goes to the credit reporting agency and buys a list of people who meet certain criteria. For example, they may request a list of names of people who own a home, have a credit score between 670 and 710, and have no 30 day late payments in the last 12 months. The credit reporting agency puts this information into its computers and generates a list for the company, charging a certain amount of money for each name sold. The names are only allowed to be used one time. (To ensure that the names are only used once and for the stated purpose, the credit bureau puts in a number of "dummy" names that are not real people, but are used to detect if the list is used in any unauthorized manner, such as to send out an additional solicitation.)

As far as the risk of identity theft, or theft of any other personal information, there is little if any chance of that happening. Your account numbers, the companies you do business with, employment information, and all other personal data is kept confidential.

The only real reason to restrict this type of access to your credit file would be to cut down on junk mail. But as Talley_Sue_NYC said, you might also possibly miss out on a decent offer someday.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2004 at 6:18PM
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I'm a bit leery about even that relatively small amount of personal financial information being sold, though. It seems like the more your information circulates, the greater the risk is of it falling into criminal hands.

We had a local identity theft incident where the criminal found a person who had the same name as him, convinced the county records department and post office that the victim had died and he was surviving relative, and diverted all sorts of mail and tax documentation to an address in California. Of course, this doesn't directly relate to my question, but it made me realize how much damage can be done with a very small amount of personal info.

And I've rarely had need for any of the unsolicited credit offers that arrive in the mail. Once or twice we've used a 0% deal while remodeling, but most of the offers get torn up and tossed.

Even my dogs get credit card offers, it's ridiculous. I've used their names here and there for trivial things (like free sample offers), just to see where they turn up later. It's pretty amazing.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2004 at 9:24AM
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Well, if more people felt as you do, the credit reporting companies wouldn't be able to run a nice and very profitable side business in selling our names to people trying to sell us things. Come to think of it, maybe making those phone calls isn't a bad idea after all.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2004 at 7:48PM
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When these privacy notices started coming out, I read that if you opt out you may have trouble getting a loan approved because your credit transactions have not been reported.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2004 at 11:57PM
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It seems to me that the businesses that were members of the credit bureau and who submitted credit information about their clients to the bureau, and in return could ask for the credit record of this person or that one, would continue to operate with relation to the credit agency as before.

The issue seems to me to be that if a different agency asked the credit agency for a large list of people with various characteristics, as outlined by another poster, the credit agency could sell them such a list - but your name could not be on it, had you refused permission.

This is my opinion - I'm not sure whether it's accurate.



    Bookmark   March 9, 2004 at 8:04PM
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It's accurate. Having your credit information excluded from the broad searches that are conducted for the purpose of selling your name would not affect the reporting of credit information to the credit bureaus. It also would not affect the normal and authorized access to your credit file by companies you currently do business with or those from whom you apply for additional credit.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 1:05AM
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If you do call that 800 number, they will know for sure they have a warm body and not one of those "dummy" names cowboyind referred to. Then watch your junk mail increase. Whenever there is a prepaid envelope I always send it back empty. Helps the postal service survive.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 8:04PM
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That's an interesting theory, but I think if you request that your name not be sold by the credit bureau, they'll honor that request. They have a legal obligation to do that.

The "dummy" names are to protect the credit bureau from companies re-using your name and not paying them for it. The credit bureau already knows which names are real and which are fake.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 11:33PM
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It seems to me that if you call the 800 number - the entity that bought the list from the credit bureau that included your name knows that you're real, so can sell your name and what info they have on you.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 6:31PM
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The 800 number goes to the credit bureau. They are the ones selling the names; they already know who's real and who's not.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2004 at 12:08PM
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