How To Stop Having Your Credit Data Shared
Last week, I highlighted a column by Ken Harney in which he uncovered a practice by some lenders and credit bureaus that lets them share your private information without you knowing about it. As he explained it: If you apply for a loan, you may suddenly start receiving offers from competing lenders because they (or firms acting on their behalf) have paid the credit bureaus for a special alert when consumers apply for a mortgage.
I've learned more about the practice since then because many of you asked how you could make sure your data isn't shared. First, I learned you don't have to fill out an official application for those alerts to be triggered. All you have to do is authorize a lender to make an inquiry into your credit. So, if you're shopping for a loan and ask a lender what your rate will be, the lender may first ask for your approval to pull your credit history. That's to give you a rate based on your credit worthiness, but that very action may trigger the alert tipping off other lenders.
You may welcome the competitive offers. But if you don't, government and industry officials say there are two things you can do. First, sign up to stop all pre-screened, unsolicited offers of credit. I've written about this "opting out" process before. It should stop credit-card offers as well as these alerts, credit bureau officials say. You can opt out by calling the toll-free number: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit the opt-out Web site. Both the telephone number and the Web site are operated by the major credit bureaus. You'll be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home telephone number, Social Security number and date of birth. It's all confidential. You'll also be given a choice to opt out for five years or permanently.
And if you have not done so already, you also should register your phone number on the national do-not-call list.
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Posted by: Jim | March 17, 2006 10:20 AM
Posted by: Karen | March 17, 2006 5:13 PM
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