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Free Online Tool to Help Prevent Identity Theft and Reduce Junk Mail

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What is and is it Legit? lets you opt out of pre-approved credit card offers and the risk of credit card fraud that comes with them. That means less junk in your mail box and less phone calls too – see my post about trigger leads further back in my blog!

Identity theft and credit card fraud are two of the worst threats facing consumers. The news is full of identity theft stories in which the victim’s credit rating is destroyed. Who doesn’t worry about their credit cards being stolen from their mailbox?

What’s worse, it might be a credit card you didn’t even apply for! Those credit card pre-approvals from banks and other lending institutions pose a hidden danger. What if you could opt out of these pre-screened credit card offers? Now you can at

The Danger of Credit Card Pre-Approvals

Those pre-approved credit card offers are more than annoying. If a criminal steals your mail, fills out a credit card application that’s been pre-approved and sends it in they’ve just applied for a credit card …in your name. Now they just have to watch for it to arrive in your mailbox. Once it does they’ll be able to go shopping armed with your credit card. It’s that easy. So what can be done to combat it? You may not have requested these pre-approvals, but it’s your credit that’s damaged in this scheme. This is why we recommend using to block credit card pre-approvals unless you prefer adding to your growing collection of credit cards. I have four already but use only two. Using OptOutPrescreen was a no-brainer for me. Blocks Access to Your Credit History

Several years ago the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies acted to alleviate consumer anxiety by providing a means to stop to credit card and insurance solicitation. You know these credit reporting companies as EquiFax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis. Together they created so that consumers could send in requests for removal (opt out) from pre-approved credit card and insurance offers. These offers are also referredto as “firm offers” of either credit or insurance. You are also given the choice of opting out for five years or you can opt out of firm offers permanantly. If you have already decided to opt out of firm offers and would like to opt back in (hey, it could happen) provides a means for that as well. Opting out will not remove you from mailing lists! Don’t be alarmed if six months after opting out you still receive credit card offers. What you have opted out of are unauthorized credit checks. A bank can request your credit history without your authorization and then “pre-approve” you for a credit card. This is the “prescreen” part that is the cause of all the problems because this is where the danger lies. It doesn’t do a criminal much good to your intercept mail only to find out you were declined.

Many people have wondered if is a legitimate website and not just a scam itself. While the website is very basic, it is secured by 1024 bit SSL to protect the information you send. is actually what it appears to be and that is a way to get off those mailing lists. Yes, they do ask you for your social security number, however, they need to be able to verify your identity before they can opt you out.

If a link to www.optoutprescreen.comshould arrive in an email addressed to you, don’t click it. Always type in the address yourself.

A good rule of thumb is to never click links in email that request your personal information. Criminals create elaborate mockups of banking and other well known sites. No legitimate site would request information requiring you to click a link to “fix your account” or resubmit personal information you’ve already provided. This is called Phishing and you should learn to recognize it when you see it.

Always type in the web address when your financial accounts are involved. In this case you will be submitting your Social Security number and if that gets into the wrong hands you could have all kinds of problems. While this site is completely legitimate make sure that you are actually on it when submitting your request to have the credit reporting companies discontinue their practice of allowing credit card companies to scan your credit history at will.

The real is not a Phishing scam is not a bunch of identity thieves who have cooked up the best scam ever. It’s another tool you can use to fight identity theft and credit card fraud. is run by the four major credit rating companies – Experian, Equifax, Innovis and TransUnion. I have opted out using this site and encourage anyone that doesn’t want to receive pre-approved credit card offers anymore to do the same.

A concern about

You may also wonder why you have to opt out in the first place. Shouldn’t credit card companies need your permission to run a credit check on you? In a perfect world the answer would most certainly be yes, but sadly this is the way it is and, if you want to stop those offers from appearing in your mailbox, you will need to play by their rules.

Using can reduce you junk mail

One great side-effect of using Optoutprescreen is that you end up with less junk mail to sort through. I figure that my junk mail decreased approximately 50% after I requested that my name be removed from credit card pre-approval lists. That’s a lot of mail! Thanks to Optoutprescreen, there are some days where I receive no mail at all. Think about how many trees we could save if we all had our names removed!

Tips to help you avoid credit card fraud

•Don’t carry credit cards you don’t use and never leave them unattended in a purse, briefcase or wallet.

•Always make sure you get your credit card receipt because it just may include your credit card number. Never toss it in a public trash bin. You’ll need that receipt later anyway to tally things up when your statement arrives.

•Shred all documents that might include your credit card number before disposing of them – old slips, credit card statements, bills, anything.

•Never give your number over the phone to someone that you do not know. It’s OK if you initiate the call but if you get a call at home from anyone that you do not know by name do not give them your credit card number.

•Never respond to an e-mail asking for your number, no matter how official or legitimate it looks. These bogus e-mails are the #1 fraud right now on the Internet.

•Review your monthly statement as soon as it comes and report any problems right away. To insure your rights, follow-up by filing a written complaint form.

•Request a copy of your credit report from each of the credit reporting companies. Look them over for unauthorized credit applications.


Clearly, buying a home should be an uplifting experience, but all too often, the closing process has left borrowers confused, angry and paying more than originally anticipated. The same goes for refinances; sure it may not be “uplifting,” but it surely shouldn’t be surprising either.

The reason? Oftentimes, lenders/brokers would exploit the old disclosure rules and borrowers would find that their closing costs and fees are significantly higher than the lender’s/broker’s original estimates. In these situations, borrowers are faced with two not-so-great choices: pay-up or throw in the towel and start searching for another house.

Now, after many years of wrestling with different ideas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has adopted rules designed to prevent these last-minute closing situations. The rules, which took effect 1/1/2010, will reduce closing shocks and, in theory, save home buyers money.

The biggest change involves the good faith estimate – or GFE – the form lenders give borrowers after they apply for a mortgage. The GFE isn’t new, but in the past, the document didn’t seem to be particularly helpful to borrowers. Here’s what has changed:


Lenders are now required to use a standard three-page document when they give prospective borrowers a GFE.

Lenders also are required to provide the document within 72 hours after prospective borrowers apply for a loan against a specific property.


Many borrowers who bought homes during the housing boom later discovered that their loans contained hidden clauses that made their mortgages unaffordable. The new GFE requires lenders to disclose features that could drive up costs. i.e. the document requires lenders to disclose whether your interest can change — as would be the case with an adjustable-rate mortgage — and if so, by how much. Other items include balloon payments and pre-payment penalties.


Some lenders offer borrowers a lower rate in exchange for higher costs — or vice versa. A new section in the GFE helps borrowers compare how different interest rates and closing charges will affect monthly payments.


Lenders are required by law to give applicants a copy of their settlement costs, known as a HUD-1, at least one day before closing – this isn’t new. In the past, however, many borrowers discovered that the costs shown on the HUD-1 bore little connection to those provided in the GFE.

The new rules make it much more difficult for lenders to depart from their GFEs. The new HUD-1 includes a line-by-line comparison to the GFE, making it easy to identify any cost changes.

Furthermore, lenders are prohibited from increasing the costs they control, such as origination and underwriting fees. Fees for third-party services, such as appraisals and title insurance, can increase no more than 10% from those provided in the GFE, as long as the borrowers use providers selected by the lender. The limit doesn’t apply if borrowers select their own third-party providers.

Other costs that aren’t subject to the 10% limit include the initial deposit for the borrower’s escrow account, daily interest charges and homeowner’s insurance.

If you want to explore your options relative to a home loan, please contact me today!