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How Does Technology Increase Consumer Opportunity?

There are many instances where computers have vastly expanded the opportunities that are available to consumers. Credit cards, for example, are granted much more quickly than ever before because of computerized credit records.

Credit pre-screening enables such businesses as credit card companies, department stores, and banks to offer consumers guaranteed credit lines. Here's how you might receive such an opportunity: a bank decides to expand its number of credit card holders by offering credit lines to potential customers who don't currently have a credit card with that company. The company decides upon the financial requirements that are acceptable for certain credit limits and rents a number of lists of consumers that research suggests might be interested in their offer. Your name and address is on one of those lists.

In order to "pre-qualify" you and the other names on the lists, the bank first combines the names from all lists then deletes duplicate names. Then it submits the lists of thousands of names to one of the three major credit bureaus, where the lists are compared by computer to each individual's credit data. The computer assigns the amount of credit available to each name, using established bank guidelines. You then receive in the mail a credit card offer with a specific amount of credit -- guaranteed -- which you can accept or not, as you choose. The bank doesn't know your name unless you choose to respond.

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