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Tired of receiving unwanted credit card offers?

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Have you received unwanted credit card offers in the mail stating that you have been "pre-approved" for credit or insurance? Ever wonder how the credit card companies get your name?

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Unfortunately, federal law allows national credit bureaus to sell so called "prescreened lists" to creditors and insurance companies, who then use the information to make unsolicited offers to consumers. The solicitation often uses just enough personal information to make the consumer believe that the sender knows something about the consumer's credit rating and ability to repay a loan. But such solicitations are made without regard to any real assessment of whether the consumer can afford the "new" loan or whether the loan's terms are favorable.

How to stop receiving unwanted solicitations:

Federal law allows consumers to "opt out" of receiving prescreened offers of credit and insurance by using a toll-free number or making the request in writing.

To opt out by telephone, consumers may call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688). You will be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home telephone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth. Federal law provides that the information you provide is confidential and may only be used to process your request.

To opt out online: Consumers may also opt out of prescreened offers by logging onto www.optout

prescreen.com. When registering online, consumers do not have to provide their Social Security number or date of birth (although the online service encourages supplying such information to assist processing the request). Requests to opt out made by telephone or online are effective as to the four major credit reporting agencies and expire five years after notification.

Consumers may also opt out of prescreened offers by writing to the individual consumer reporting agencies at the following addresses: Trans Union Name Removal Option, P.O. Box 505, Woodlyn, PA 19094-0505 or www.transunion.com.

When mailing your written request, you should include the following information: complete name, full address, previous address (if you've moved in the last six months), Social Security number, date of birth and signature.

Consumers may also permanently opt out from receiving prescreened offers by submitting a signed Permanent Opt Out Election form, which is available by logging onto www.optoutprescreen.com.

For more information, contact the Minnesota Attorney General's Office at 651-296-3353 or 1-800-657-3787.

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