Seven Simple Ways to Avoid Unwanted Telephone Calls & Mailings

Image courtesy of MGN online

Image courtesy of MGN online

We all react differently to marketing approaches, especially those that are delivered right to our homes. What some may consider convenient others may view as invasions of privacy. For instance, the ads we see online are often based on our internet browsing activity or purchase history. While some people enjoy receiving catalogs and pre-approved credit card offers others consider these offers a nuisance. Most people are annoyed by overly persistent telemarketers. All of these unsolicited offers can be avoided (with a few exceptions). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other agencies offer seven simple ways to help you protect your privacy both online and off, avoid unwanted calls and secure your identity.

  1. Get Off Mailing Lists –The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) allows you to remove your address from mailing lists which send marketing materials based on your past purchases and interests (e.g. magazine offers). Keep the mail you want, block materials you’re not interested in. dmachoice.org
  2. Opt-out of Online Behavioral Advertising– Some online ads are customized as you browse the Web based on your interests. The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) consumer choice page allows you to opt-out of receiving ads from participating ad networks. http://www.aboutads.info/choices/
  3. Stop Preapproved Credit Card Offers –You have the right to opt-out of being included on lists companies use to mail you credit card and insurance offers. Be aware that you will be asked for your SSN. This is a secure site which BBB employees themselves have used.optoutprescreen.com
  4. Block Telemarketing Calls –The National Do Not Call Registry helps you to limit the telemarketing calls you receive. Exceptions include polling, surveys and fundraisers from political parties and non-profit organizations. Once you register your phone number, covered telemarketers have up to 31 days to stop calling you.donotcall.gov
  5. Add a Security Freeze –A security freeze locks down your credit reports so criminals can’t access your credit to open unauthorized accounts (existing credit accounts are not impacted). In Alabama there is no fee for identity theft victims. All others pay $10 to place, temporarily lift or remove the freeze. To be effective, a freeze must be implemented with all three credit reporting agencies.
  6. Place a Fraud Alert –A fraud alert is a less drastic measure than a security freeze. An alert flags your credit reports, alerting lenders to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name. Fraud alerts are free, but rely on the diligence of the person performing the credit check. Fraud alerts must be reinstated every 90 days in most cases. You only need to contact one credit reporting agency to place an alert—it must notify the others.
  7. Check your Credit Reports –Monitoring your credit reports is key to catching identity theft early. You can request a free copy of your report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Spacing these checks out allows you to monitor your credit throughout the year. annualcreditreport.com.

Fraud Alert Links:

  1. Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
  2. TransUnion: https://freeze.transunion.com
  3. Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com

Credit Card Security Freeze Links:

  1. Experian: https://www.experian.com/fraud
  2. TransUnion: http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-alerts.page
  3. Equifax: https://www.alerts.equifax.com

Sources: BBB North Alabama & the FTC.

To read more, go to Looking to block unwanted calls?

Source: United States Federal Trade Commission, http://www.ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.