County jail improvements paying off

Published 10:41 pm Monday, December 31, 2007

By Staff
Imagine, if you will, a scenario I'm about to describe. It's one that is quite familiar to all of us. You go to your mailbox expecting a letter from an old friend, perhaps a bill or two, and maybe even a catalog from one of your favorite stores; however, you find your mail box filled with unsolicited credit card and insurance offers.
Oftentimes, we find multiple offers from various companies offering instant credit or insurance if we only fill out the enclosed application. While these offers can provide many benefits and allow you to compare costs, for many of us, it is simply an added hassle to have these offers fill our mailboxes.
Many companies choose to solicit new credit card accounts and insurance policies by prescreening individuals in order to identify potential customers.
Prescreening generally works in one of two ways. A creditor or insurer establishes criteria, such as a minimum credit score, and a consumer reporting company identifies those people who meet the established criteria either in their own list or in a list provided by a creditor or insurer.
As so many of us know all too well, identity theft is becoming more and more common. Identity thieves can use your personal information to open credit card accounts in your name, apply for utilities in your name, borrow money in your name, or even make major purchases in your name.
While nothing can guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft, there are certainly ways to minimize both your risk and the damage that can be done if someone uses your personal information. The best advice is to make it as difficult as possible for thieves to access your personal information, including your Social Security number, charge receipts, insurance forms, and bank statements.
When Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act in 2003, it included a requirement that the credit reporting agencies provide an opt out provision.
Even now, over four years later, many people are still unaware they have this option. If you decide you do not want to receive these pre-approved offers from credit card and insurance companies, you now have two choices.
You can opt out of receiving these offers for five years, or you can opt out of receiving them permanently. If you choose to opt out, call toll free 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit
Both the telephone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies.
You will be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home phone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth. Your information is confidential and will be used only to process your request.
Requests to opt out are processed within five days, but it may take up to 60 days before you stop receiving prescreened offers. If you change your mind, you can use the same toll-free telephone number or website to opt back in.
My staff and I work for you.  If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721.
Jo Bonner is a member of the U.?S. House of Representatives and may be reached at his Web site at