Are you sick and tired of opening up your mailbox only to find a boatload of junk? What about having your dinnertime interrupted by telemarketers? Beyond being incredibly annoying, this sort of stuff can actually pose a threat to your financial well-being…
Just think of all those pre-approved credit card offers that you’ve received over the years. What if they fell into the wrong hands? And guess what? Even tearing them up into tiny pieces isn’t enough to keep the fraudsters at bay…
So what’s a guy (or gal) to do? Simple — just follow these three simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to stemming the tide of unwanted contact.
Step 1: Drop by the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service (MPS) and opt out of unsolicited consumer mailings by doing one of two things… Either fill out their online form or print out and mail a hardcopy of the request. The hardcopy should go to:
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 282
Carmel, NY 10512
The only downside to doing this is that they charge a $1 fee to verify your registration and protect against fraud. This is true whether you file online (where you’ll pay with a credit card) or via mail (requires a check or money order).
Step 2: Head on over to the National Do Not Call Registry and click the link to register a phone number. Punch in your phone number, enter an e-mail address (required for verification) and click submit. Within seconds you’ll have an e-mail containing a verification link. Click that link and you’re done.
Step 3: Finally, hop on over to OptOutPrescreen.com, which is the official website for opting in or out of pre-approved (firm) credit offers. It’s operated by the major credit bureaus, so it’s legit (more details here).
Simply click the button at the bottom of the front page and you’ll be presented with three options: opt-in, opt-out online or opt-out via hardcopy. Online requests are dead easy — just enter your name, address, birthday, and SSN and then click submit. Unfortunately, such requests are only good for five years. Hardcopy requests, on the other hand, are permanent. Lame distinction, but it is what it is.
Here’s a tip: if you select the hard copy option, it’ll file the request online and then present you with a printable form to sign and mail, so you’ll end up killing two birds with one stone (and a stamp).
This is where you should send the form if you choose to do the hardcopy:
P.O. Box 2033
Rock Island, IL 61204-2033
Bottom Line: It takes just a few minutes to do all three steps, so do it. Now. Seriously.
And if you’re an over-achiever, feel free check out bonus step #4:
Bonus Step 4: Register for the DMA’s E-mail Preference Service to (potentially) reduce your load of unsolicited commercial e-mail. I haven’t actually bothered with this one, as virtually none of the spammers that target my e-mails addresses are the sorts of folks that would pay attention to such requests. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if adding your name to such a list would actually result in an increase of spam if the list fell into the wrong hands. Here again, registration is good for five years, and you’ll need to click a link in a verification e-mail in order to get your address added to the list.
A few things to keep in mind:
- These measures will only affect ‘legitimate’ companies that play by the rules.
- It’ll take awhile to notice the full effects of your requests, but this stuff does help. A lot.
- Opting out can cause you to miss out on potentially profitable credit card offers.
- And remember… If you move (like we did) you’ll need to do this all over again.