Many people are frustrated by the amount of junk mail they receive each year (the national average is over 50 pieces of mail from credit card companies alone). And, telemarketing soliciting credit card offers can be especially intrusive and annoying. But there are ways to get off of these marketing lists on a permanent basis. Listed below are links and information on some of the more popular and effective ways consumers can access to unsubscribe or "opt out" from unwanted telemarketing calls and mailings and protect their privacy.
Register your home and cell phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry to cut down on telemarketing calls. This is for consumers only, not businesses. It's not completely foolproof, however. There are still some organizations that are allowed to call registered numbers, and most local marketers are not restricted either. Everything you need to know is explained on the Web site.
The registration and verification process is easy. The online registration process requires an active e-mail address. If you register online, the Federal Trade Commission will send you an e-mail message with a link in it. Click on the link in the e-mail within 72 hours to finalize your registration. If you do not have an e-mail address, you can register by phone (888-382-1222).
Credit Card and other types of direct mail offers
Stop the credit bureaus -- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- from selling your name to mailing lists. This will cut down on the number of pre-approved credit offers that you receive. Contact them directly online or toll-free at the addresses listed below:
Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; (800) 685-1111
Experian , P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Trans Union, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022; (800) 916-8800
To opt-out online go to www.optoutprescreen.com or call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688).
Other types of junk mail
The Direct Marketing Association is a "trade association of businesses that advertise their products and services directly to consumers by mail, telephone, magazine, Internet, radio or television," according to its website (www.thedma.org/consumers). The DMA maintains a database of consumers who want to curtail unsolicited mail. The catch is that only DMA members must abide by the pledge to take your name off their lists. Take note that while you can opt out by mail for free, opting out online will cost you $5.
Read advice from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm) for reducing the spam that clogs your e-mail account. There are links that let you report spam if your request isn't honored, and there are tips to avoid becoming a victim of e-mail scams.
Restricting financial institutions from sharing your personal information
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act lets you tell your financial institution not to share your personal information with third parties. It's a relatively toothless law. The bank can still share plenty of your information with its affiliates that, these days, can be dozens of companies. And it can even share information with third parties if there's a marketing agreement between the two companies. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to take the time to opt-out if you are not interested in receiving solicitations for these ancillary services.