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Resources and Expertise to Combat Identity Theft, Scams, and Social Engineering
Are you tired of unsolicited credit offers, junk mail, email spam and telephone solicitations? Did you know that opting out from all those solicitations may reduce your risk of identity theft? InsideIDTheft.info worked with Identity Theft Expert Bob Sullivan of MSNBC to create this video to assist consumers in opting out from unsolicited credit offers, junk mail, email spam and telephone solicitations.
By exercising your right to opt out, you can reduce the amount of unsolicited credit offers, junk mail, email spam and telephone solicitations you receive. While many people opt out in order to simply reduce the volume of unsolicited offers they receive, a positive side effect of opting out is the reduced risk of identity theft. Identity thieves steal mail to obtain personal information about you and your family and can use credit applications to open new credit accounts.
Opting out of a variety of unsolicited offers is simple, usually free and does not take much time. Be aware that you must be diligent about following the correct steps to opt out and, in some cases, you will need to renew the procedure when the applicable opt out term expires.
While it is easy to opt out yourself, some consumers prefer to use professional services to perform opt out services on their behalf for a fee. Please see our For-Profit Services page for information about companies that offer opt out services. Often, the service of opting out is bundled with other services related to identity theft protection. Always read the materials provided by the professional service carefully to be sure you are only signing up for the specific service you desire.
Below are the major opt out resources available for consumers. As there are thousands of companies and dozens of smaller credit bureaus, it is virtually impossible to opt out from all unsolicited offers. But, with diligence you can dramatically reduce the amount of unsolicited offers you receive and also reduce your risk of identity theft.
Opt out of pre-screened credit offers:
Credit issuers regularly purchase names and information which fit their target market from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) and then mail credit offers to potential customers. Opting out removes your name and address from the mailing lists these three credit bureaus supply to their clientele.
Note that this will reduce – but not eliminate – unsolicited credit offers for several reasons:
Not all credit issuers use the opt out lists compiled by these three credit bureaus.
Your information may be held by other credit bureaus and companies which may sell your information.
Your initial request to opt out will only place your name and address on the three major credit bureaus’ opt out list temporarily. Your initial request to opt out will result in a confirmation letter being sent to you by postal mail (you should receive it in approximately 14 days). You must complete and return the letter to permanently opt out. If you do not, your name will not be included on the opt out list.
You should see a reduction in the amount of credit offers you receive within 60 to 90 days after you return the confirmation letter.
Opt out of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) marketing lists:
The DMA is a trade association representing a membership consisting of both for-profit and nonprofit companies. Many of these companies collect and sell customer information. The sale of this information creates an additional source of income for the companies. The more data a company collects about its customers, the more valuable the data is to marketers buying the data. Marketers attempt to target new customers by use of a wide-range of demographic information such as age, sex, geographic region, household income, and purchasing habits.
You’ve probably had a retail clerk ask for your phone number, email address and zip code when making a purchase. They do not need this information to complete a sale or verify your credit card. The retailer simply wants to collect as much data about you as possible and has instructed the clerks to ask pre-determined questions. You have the right to tell the sales clerk that you do not want to provide any personal information.
The lists of personal information collected by companies you do business with is sold to other companies and results in junk mail, email spam and telephone solicitations. By opting out you can reduce all of these forms of unsolicited offers and also reduce your risk of identity theft.
You can place your name on the following opt out lists maintained by the DMA:
“Do Not Mail” list (also know as the Mail Preference Service or MPS)
“Do Not Call” list (also know as the Telephone Preference Service or TPS) – Note: This service is only applicable to residents of Pennsylvania and Wyoming, all others should make use of the National Do Not Call Registry (hyperlink this www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx)
“Do Not Email” list (also know as the E-Mail Preference Service or E-MPS)
The “Do Not Mail” and “Do Not Call” lists keep your name on the “opt-out” list for five years, after which you’ll need to resubmit your name.
The “Do Not E-Mail” list keeps your name on the list for two years, after which you’ll need to resubmit your name.
The “Do Not Mail” list is updated once per month. Allow up to 31 days for your name to appear on the list. The list is distributed to member companies four times per year. Therefore, it could take up to three months for the list with your name on it to be distributed to DMA member companies. Once member companies receive the “Do Not Mail” list they are required to remove “Do Not Mail” names from their internal mailing lists.
The “Do Not Mail” list does not apply to mail sent to business addresses or mail addressed to generic recipients such as “Current Resident” or Occupant.”
If you would like to opt-out of receiving calls from telemarketers you can put your telephone number(s) on the National Do Not Call Registry list. This list covers both domestic and foreign telemarketers to your US based telephone number.
Some types of calls are exempted from the National Do Not Call Registry. These include calls from companies you have a relationship with, political solicitations, charities, and surveys. As long as calls do not solicit sales of goods or services they are not considered telemarketing.
Opt out of companies you have a consumer relationship with:
Companies you buy products or services from can legally share information about you with their affiliated companies. They are only allowed to share the information if permission is granted by the consumer. Normally, consumers are automatically opted-in unless they take the steps to opt out. The steps to opt out are provided in the privacy notice which is required by law to be given to the company’s customers. These notices may be difficult to understand and be contained in fine print that can be difficult to read. Always open mail from companies you do business with and watch for privacy notices that provide information on how to opt out from your information being shared with affiliate companies. If you chose to opt out, follow the directions contained in the privacy notice.
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