Tell Them to Stop - Here's How!

PHONE SOLICITATIONS - How to stop them? Go to www.donotcall.gov. Or call toll free, (888) 382-1222, from the number you are going to restrict. A listing is good for five years, after which you'll have to repeat the process.

JUNK MAIL - How to stop them? A private organization, called the Direct Marketing Association, handles an opt out list, but not every merchant with pages of hot leads is a rule-abiding member. If you want to give it a shot anyway, write the association in care of the Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, N.Y. 10512.

There is an online form at http://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html. If you want to get more mail, there is also a place to sign up to get on the lists.

E-MAIL - Do not respond to an unsolicited e-mail message when it gives you the option to opt out of receiving more e-mail. It's a trick used by spammers to confirm they hit a live address. So how do you prevent spam? Unfortunately, other than spam filters, there really is no good way, so be careful and don't fall into the trap.

CREDIT CARD OFFERS - All major credit bureaus that collect information on your borrowing habits let you opt out of what they call prescreened offers of credit at www.optoutprescreen.com. You can opt out for a period of five years or permanently.

REAL ESTATE FILINGS - Marketing companies scrape public records for names of new homeowners. There is little you can do about it because these records are intended to be public. However, any good lawyer can show you how to make it a little harder for personal information to be listed on a deed.

OTHER OPT-OUTS - Your personal information is accessible in less obvious ways. For instance, your computer tracks where you have visited online. DoubleClick, a company that collects data for online advertisers, offers a way to prevent your computer from giving it information at http://www.doubleclick.com/us/about-doubleclick/privacy/dart-adserving.asp.

But again, it is only a piecemeal solution. Other online advertising companies will still put “cookies” on your computer to collect the same data. So the next-best solution is to frequently run software that cleans out cookies. You can get Spyware Blaster, Spybot, or Ad-Aware at www.download.com free.

The Donotcall list was created in 2003, not as a way to protect privacy, but to remove a powerful irritant from the lives of Americans. The Federal Trade Commission, which administers the list, says that more than 137 million phone numbers have been placed on the list by people tired of being interrupted during dinner or their favorite TV show.

The popularity of the Donotcall list unleashed a demand for other opt-out lists. Consumers can now opt out of the standard practice of their banks or loan companies selling their information to others.

Remember to register if you get a new phone number. You can register cellphone numbers as well. A listing is good for five years, after which you’ll have to repeat the process. But you need not worry about forgetting. You will know when you start receiving sales calls again.

Good Luck!

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