This article is provided and sponsored by:
ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions
Unsolicited credit card offers. Blank checks written to you (but charged to your credit card). Weekend phone calls from solicitors encouraging you to refinance or make a donation. Each of these solicitations not only present spending temptations, but also potential opportunities for identity thieves.
For your sanity and to protect your credit, the consumer credit counselors at ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (CCCS) suggest you take a few simple steps to limit these unnecessary intrusions into your life.
1. Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s national “Do Not Call” Registry by calling 888-382-1222 or visiting the FTC’s website. Register your home and cell phone numbers. Doing so will stop most unsolicited calls. The majority of states participate in this national list. The following holdouts maintain their own. Residents of these states would benefit by signing up for both the national and statewide do not call lists.
2. Even when your numbers are added to these registries, some companies with which you do business may continue to call. So may local merchants, professional and alumni associations, charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors. Prohibit individual telemarketers from calling repeatedly by asking them to put you on their company’s do not call list.
3. To eliminate mail from any such group, or mail addressed to “occupant” or “resident,” write directly to the sender of each piece of unwanted mail. Consider using a sample letter from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse or write your own.
4. To “Opt-Out” or remove yourself from mailing lists for offers for credit or insurance from Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion, call 888-5-OPT-OUT or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. (Innovis provides credit information to marketers in the real estate based on home purchases.)
5. Visit the Direct Mail Association’s website, to pick and choose to opt-out of receiving direct mail in whichever categories you prefer-credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers or other mail offers (for donations, cable and phone ads, retail offers, etc.). Catalogchoice.org can also help you reduce the delivery of unwanted paper catalogs.
6. Fend off some of the largest direct mailers at the pass:
- Email your request to Publishers Clearing House.
- Submit Valpak’s Mailing List Removal Request.
- Opt-out of the databases at Acxiom (a leading developer of marketing databases).
- Remove yourself from the mailing list of the RedPlum coupon mailings.
- Visit Epsilon (another larger marketing database company) to opt-out.
7. Contact your phone company and request that your number be “unlisted” and “unpublished.” Unlisted keeps you out of the phone book, but unpublished numbers cannot legally be sold to any business. (Making these requests may cost you a small fee.)
8. Product warranty or “registration cards” are often only used by marketing companies that create and sell buyer profiles. It’s safest to avoid filling out the product registration cards. Usually your receipt covers you if the product is defective.
9. Survey cards found on tear off pads in car washes, dry cleaners, coffee shops, malls, and newspapers, are also collected by marketers to gather information-rich details about you for future pitches. Resist filling these out altogether.
10. When you receive unsolicited mail in envelopes that say “Address Correction Requested” or “Return Postage Guaranteed,” don’t open them. You can write “Unsolicited Mail-Return to Sender” on the envelope and the company must pay the postage to send the mailer back to themselves. Many companies will then remove you from their lists.
Spending a few hours to end unsolicited mail and calls will decrease your temptation to spend on unnecessary items, reduce your odds of becoming a victim of identity theft, save paper and give you more time to spend with your family, friends or on anything more important than disposing of ads.
If direct marketers have enticed you in the past and you’ve found yourself in unmanageable credit card debt, non-profit ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions provides no-cost debt and credit counseling. Call 800-750-2227 (CCCS) or get started now.