Assemblyman Ramos: Tired of Unwanted Credit Card Offers or Program Acceptances?

Consumer tips for avoiding nuisance offers and insurance schemes
January 20, 2006
Many people receive several letters in the mailbox every day offering great credit card protection programs, or telling them they have been pre-approved for a new card. What most people do not know is there is something they can do to avoid this nuisance. To further maintain your finances and keep your credit on track, all New Yorkers are now entitled to a free credit report.

Protect your credit under current law

Companies constantly offer credit card protection for a fee and send pre-approved offers for credit or insurance. Paying for credit card protection may be unnecessary since under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card holders only are liable for up to $50 in unauthorized charges. Some credit card companies even waive this fee.

To help keep you informed about these credit card protection service agreement, the Legislature passed a law that prohibits automatic renewal of credit card protection services and requires written solicitations to tell you that buying these services isn’t required to get a credit card or to keep the ones you have (Ch. 433 of 2005).

Limit pre-approved credit and insurance offers

Unsolicited credit offers can lead to debt. Pre-approved offers for credit or insurance can be a nuisance. But thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can stop future mailings. You’ll reduce your risk of identity theft resulting from stolen mail and the amount of unwanted mail. Call (888) 5OPTOUT ((888) 567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

You can opt out for five years or permanently and you may opt back in at any time. While you still may get commercial mailings from various other sources, you will be no longer included on certain pre-approved offer lists maintained by major credit reporting companies.

Order your free credit report

Knowing what’s listed on your credit report is a smart way to keep track of your financial standing. Effective since September 2005, New Yorkers now can receive a free credit report annually from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – thanks to a recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses use this information to evaluate your financial history and the information can affect whether you can get credit or a job.

Although your credit report gives a history of your spending habits, it does not include your credit score, a rating which banks and others use to decide if you are a good risk. You can purchase your credit score when you request your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com, by contacting one of the credit reporting agencies, by visiting the my FICO Web site, or by calling FICO at (800)-319-4433.