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Credit Companies Realize Pre-Approval No Longer Good Idea


Card issuers scaling back on direct mail offers.

The credit crunch appears to be saving a lot of trees.

Credit card issuers are cutting back on direct mail offers and the decline is expected to continue through the end of the year, The New York Times reports.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is now the biggest mailer of credit card offers, followed by American Express (AXP) and Bank of America (BAC). The number of offers dipped in 2006 following Bank of America's purchase of MBNA, another large card-issuer, but soon rebounded as consumers, flush with home equity, signed up for new cards.

Even in the digital age, direct mail remains the most effective way to attract new customers. But if you're tired of receiving offers in the mail, or if you fear the letter will be stolen and a thief will open an account in your name and destroy your credit rating, sign up for the National Do Not Mail List. The service is run by, and seeks to hold down costs by removing people who don't want to receive direct mail solicitations from its lists. The service is free and operates separately from the National Do Not Call Registry, a government service aimed at telemarketing harassment.

It's easy to get into trouble if you have too many credit cards in your wallet. Start by cutting up unsolicited credit card offers that arrive in the mail. One major bank credit card and one oil company credit card should be enough. In many cases, you may not need the oil company credit card because many gas stations take bank credit or debit cards. And, there's always cash.

Your credit score will be downgraded if you get into trouble and fall behind in your monthly payments. However, there are specific steps to take to fix a damaged credit rating.

Learn how to read your credit report and know how your FICO score affects you. Federal law requires the three major credit bureaus to provide consumers with one free copy of their report each year. To download and print a copy of your report from Equifax (EFX), TransUnion and Experian, go to, the official Web site for free reports.

The Federal Trade Commission estimated that 8.3 million Americans, or about 3.7% of the adult population, were victims of identify theft in 2005. The losses total billions of dollars each year, but the financial institutions generally take the hit and victims are rarely liable if the fraudulent charges run up in their names are reported quickly.

However, consumers pay for identity theft through higher fees - and an estimated 200 million hours spent each year trying to set the record straight.
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