If you've ever donated to any charity, applied for a credit card, or subscribed to a magazine, chances are you receive unsolicited "junk" mail. Many companies purchase names and addresses from mail order clearing houses that filter consumer information and sell the "leads" based on personal income, past spending history and other demographic or psychographic criteria.
You may choose to ignore these offers, but they seem to compile over time and can become quite a nuisance. The elderly, in particular, may find it difficult to distinguish "junk" from other important mail when it is cleverly positioned, and sometimes fall victim to unwanted purchases or enrollments, like extended automobile warranties, term life insurance, or monthly donation programs.
Rather than risk spending unwanted money on services or perpetual donations, you can take some actions to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you or your loved ones receive. Here are steps to take reduce junk mail.
To eliminate prescreened credit card or insurance offers, you may choose to opt out of receiving them for five years or to opt out permanently.
To opt out call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. The phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies, and you can either request the five year opt out or the permanent option by completing a Permanent Opt-Out Election form. When you call or visit the website, you'll be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home telephone number, Social Security number and date of birth. The information you provide is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out.
If you don't have internet access, you may send a written request to permanently opt out to each of the major consumer reporting agencies. Make sure your request includes your home address, phone number, name, Social Security number and date of birth. Here's how to contact them:
Experian Opt Out P.O. Box 919 Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Name Removal Option P.O. Box 505 Woodlyn, PA 19094
Equifax, Inc. Options P.O. Box 740123 Atlanta, GA 30374
Innovis Consumer Assistance P.O. Box 495 Pittsburgh, PA 15230
For other mail solicitation, consumers may register at the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) consumer website: www.DMAchoice.org for a processing fee of $2 for a period of 10 years. This is the fastest way to reduce the unsolicited mail offers.
If you don't have internet access, you may register by sending your name and address (and signature) along with a $3 processing fee (check or money order payable to DMA) to:
DMAchoice Data & Marketing Association P.O. Box 643 Carmel, NY 10512
It is important to note that most respectable lending organizations and banks will not call you to request your social security number of personal information. NEVER provide your personal details to anyone who calls you, regardless of who they say they work for.