Protecting Your Identity and Privacy
Safeguarding our identity and privacy should be a part of our everyday lives, however many of us are not aware of the various resources to assist us with this endeavor.
Many privacy expert advocate the limiting of giving out our personal information to companies. Many of us don’t think much about giving out or basic information such as our address and phone number, but hesitate when it comes to more critical information such as our social security and credit card number. But even the basic information is used to build more and more profiles on us which is why protecting the basic information is just as important.
One of the easiest ways to help limit the exposure of our personal information is to make sure we diligently use “opt-out” lists. The following a few of the most common organizations and marketing companies that allow you opt-out of their lists.
Stop Junk Mail, Email and Phone Calls
Junk mail seems to be one of the things in life that it seems that we have to live with, however you can do several things that can help reduce the amount of it. The following are a few pro-active ideas you start right away:
- Anytime you fill out any type of warranty card, order a product or service, or donate money, write in large letters “DO NOT SELL MY NAME OF ADDRESS”
- Anytime you speak to a customer service representative of a company you deal with ask them to mark your account so that your name, account information, address, or other information is not sold, rented, traded, or given away.
- Call you credit card companies and inform then that you do not want your personal information given to anyone other organization, sold, rented, or given away.
- Always be aware that anytime you fill out a contest form you are almost always giving away your information to be sold or given away to someone else
Sexually Oriented Advertising (SOA)
In order to stop receiving this type of material, the U.S. Post Office has a special form that will assist in stopping this type of material from being sent to your hours. Pick up the form at your local post office. The form number is 1500. For more information, visit the USPS site dealing with this subject at USPS Stop Explicit Mail.
Direct Marketing Association
This is another organization that has an “opt-out” service. They will allow you to opt out for free by mail or they will allow you to do it online for a $5.00 fee. To obtain more information go to their web site. They have two services that you may consider being removed from:
Mailing List Removal
Direct Mail Association Phone Opt Out Service
PennySaver of California
You can remove your name and address from these mailings by calling:
(800) 422-4116 There are many companies that distribute many (but not all) of the coupon envelopes that are sent to you. With many of these organizations, their opt-out service only lasts for five years.
ADVO also known as “ShopWise”
888-241-6760 or 860 285-6100
Click the link and fill out the form, remember you don’t have to give your email.
Val-Pak Savings Coupons.
Val-Pak maintains regional lists, not a central one. Send your request to the address printed on the envelope you receive. If you receive the blue envelope you can also remove your address from their website at: www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm
Call 1-800-67-TARGET to get off the list.
Catalogs, mail order lists and magazines
Abacus (owned by DoubleClick)
When you buy something from a mail order catalog, your transaction is likely to be reported to Abacus, owned by DoubleClick Digital Advertising. Members of the Abacus Alliance, an estimated 1800 catalog companies, also work with a variety of other publishing companies who contribute and exchange information about their customers. Call the below phone number to get the instructions to be removed from their list: Phone 800 518-4453 or 303.657.2800
First class and some bulk mail:
If the former residents neglected to fill out a Post Office change of address card, or it expired, you can fill one out for them. You must fill out one card for each unique last name. Write "Moved, Left No Forwarding Address" as the new address. Sign your own name and write "Form filled in by current resident of the house, [Your Name], agent for the above". You must write "agent for the above". Hand this form directly to your carrier, if possible, as your carrier must approve the form and see that it gets entered into the post service National Change of Address (NCOA) database. This is very effective.
Register names of deceased:
The Direct Marketing Association gives you the ability to register the names of deceased loved ones with their Deceased Do Not Contact list (DDNC) at: https://preference.the-dma.org/cgi/ddnc.php.
Click on the continue button at the button of the page to get to the form. There is a $1 credit card verification fee to complete the registration in order to record those who are entering the names as well as to prevent fraudulent entries.
FTC Credit Card Opt Out Information Page
Phone: 888-567-8688, aka 1-888-5-OPT-OUT
Note: This voice prompted service will remove you from the credit card marketing lists of Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis. It will take your pertinent information including your Social Security Number.
Banking Industry Opt Out Information
Many of the financial institutions you deal with have to be personally notified that you wish to opt out of their direct mail mailings. Additionally, many of your banking institutions sell your information to related companies. The majority of these institutions require you to send them letters. The below site provides sample letter for you to print out and mail.
Sample Opt Out Letters for Banking Institutions
Credit Card Direct Mail Opt Out Removal Service:
Your credit history is available to credit card companies for marketing offers. To reduce these junk mail credit-related offers, call the federal Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) opt-out request line. They will opt you out with the four major credit reporting companies permanently, or you can request it for just two years. To obtain more information about this service you should read the corresponding page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website listed below. This service allows you to opt out for two years or permanently.
Many credit card companies compile lists of cardholders for sales promotions based on purchase patterns. California Civil Code sec. 1748.12 requires all credit card companies to provide notice to cardholders prior to disclosing personal information to marketers. Cardholders may prevent the release of this information by filling out a preprinted form or calling a toll-free number, often found on the card itself. Other states either have no law or different laws, but most companies will honor your request not to sell or share your contact information with other companies if you contact them.
Other Sources of Junk Mail
Almost every magazine subscription company sells its subscriber information to whoever will pay for it. In order to stop them from selling your information you will need to notify each of the magazine companies you subscribe to and notify them you would like to “opt-out” of their subscriber list. To opt-out of these lists, on each magazine, look at the bottom of the masthead page under their contact info. They will usually have this information in tiny print in the last few paragraphs of the masthead. Some times the information will be in a section called “subscriber address changes.”
Keep your phone number off solicitation lists:
The easiest was is to call the Federal Trade Commissions Do-Not-Call List phone line. You can register online or via telephone.
National Do Not Call Registry
Junk Fax Information
The following is the Federal Trade Commissions web site that provides information regarding how to stop or make a complaint about junk faxes.
FTC Unwanted Faxes Information Web Site
another site to read
Data compilers and mailing list companies
Acxiom, a large data compiler that sells consumer data to marketers. They participate in DMA's MPS. To request an opt-out form, leave a message on its Consumer Advocate Hotline at (877) 774-2094, or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equifax (formerly Polk)
Experian Marketing Solutions
(888) 5OPTOUT (888-567-8688)
Obtain Your Social Security Report:
To obtain your free Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement you can call the Social Security Administration and obtain it. The phone number below is a voice prompt service that will order you a SSA 7004 form. This form will depict how much money has been placed in your account, your estimates of Social Security benefits, disability benefits, death benefits, and should indicate any unauthorized use of your social security number. If your real earnings do not match, you should call the social security administration (800) 772-1213, and speak with an operator.
Information about Requesting a Social Security Statement
Check Your Medical History Insurance Industry Database :
If you would like to see you medial insurance information file, a separate organization keeps this information. You can obtain one report each year for free. For more information, see their web site.
Medical Information Bureau (MIB)
ChoicePoint is one of the largest companies that keeps information about the public (other than the Government). They have a specific website that provides information on the various reports that the public can order on themselves. If you really wanted to look at information about yourself, this is the site. Unfortunately, they do not provide information on opting out of their databases.
ChoicePoint Consumer File
Employment History Request
To request a copy of your employment history report, call 1-866-312-8075.
Tenant History Request
To request a copy of your tenant history report, call 1-877-448-5732.
- A-Plus Report (800) 627-3487
- CLUE – ChoicePoint (866) 312-8076
- Medical Info Bureau (866) 692-6901
- ChexSystems (800) 428-9623
Opt Out of National Ad Network
This is an online form that assists in opting out of online ads from your computer.
Free Credit Report
www.ftc.gov or call (877) 322-8228
Network Advertising Opt-Out Online Ads
Web Trends Opt Out of Tracking Cookies
Double Click Opt Out Cookie
California Unclaimed Property Search