Lately I've been getting letters in the mail saying that I've been pre-approved for a $2000 dollar loan by some random bank or financial institutions. I've never given out my address to anyone. I wonder how those companies obtain my mailing information, and if there's a way to stop them?

  • 2
    what country are you in? – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 16 '12 at 3:47
  • I think this is a good question with regards to how one's credit or personal information gets bought and sold by companies, how to prevent it and what to be careful of. – MrChrister Oct 16 '12 at 6:20
  • Great question, I once wondered about this as well. – C. Ross Oct 16 '12 at 13:02
  • @JoeTaxpayer im based in the US. – user133466 Oct 16 '12 at 14:53

Pre-approved means they ran some basic info about you through a very simple model and have guessed that you are likely able to pay it back. Of course you won't actually get the loan until you provide all the detailed info they need.

They got your name and address because somebody sold them a list of customers. It could have been a college, a store, or a magazine company.

They can even buy your credit info from one or all of the credit agencies.

Corporations, and institutions make some money by selling their lists. Sometimes buried in the fine print is the fact that they will sell this info to their partners. There are ways to stop the offers, but they depend on where you live, and what lists you are on. (Edit from JoeT - these offers should contain the details for 'Opting Out.' Once this is requested, the offers will be greatly reduced. Not zero, but 90%+ reduced)

What to watch out for? It is simple, throw all these offers away. If you do need a loan or credit card you should start the process by researching companies, not by deciding on a vendor based on what junk mail they send you.

If you do end up getting a credit card or a loan, these offers will continue. The credit agencies will provide a list of customers with new lines of credit to somebody willing to pay. They will offer you balance transfers, better rates, larger credit lines. Some of the offers will also come from your bank or credit card company. The advice is the same throw them away.

If you want to see a flood of offers, just get denied for a credit card...

  • 6
    I'd say "shred" instead of "throw away" – littleadv Oct 16 '12 at 17:10
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    Real estate transactions are public record. If you buy a house, expect offers like this. Plus when conditions are right, or government programs are introduced, expect offers related to those as well. I've even seen ones meant to look like official notices from my mortgage lender in order to get me to open the envelope. I do open them, confirm my suspicions, then shred them. mhoran_psprep is exactly right, if you want to borrow money, do it from company selected through research, not through junk mail. Also, look out for the loans disguised as checks that come in the mail. – Xalorous Jan 11 '17 at 18:09
  • "If you buy a house, expect offers like this." and be careful with those, we got a number saying "reduced payment" and the fine print was you're paying interest only for a year or two, after which the payment is higher than it was before because it's a worse (and variable) rate and you haven't been paying off principal. – Kevin Nov 2 '18 at 16:23

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