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Keeping junk mail, telemarketers at bay: Five tips

October 02, 2011|By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times

Few people like junk mail, telemarketing calls or unsolicited offers that come by email. But can you stop them? Not entirely, but you can cut them back, often severely, by following these five steps:

• If you haven't already, put your phone number on the Federal Trade Commission's do-not-call registry. Telemarketers have to stop calling 31 days after you register at http://www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222. This will not, however, stop calls from political organizations, charities or businesses with which you have a relationship.

• Do you get letters from credit card and insurance companies saying you are "pre-approved" for their offers? Get off those mailing lists by going to http://www.optoutprescreen.com, a site run by credit reporting agencies, or by calling the service at 888-567-8688. You can opt out for five years or, if you fill out an additional form, permanently.

• Curb the number of catalogs, magazine offers, donation requests and the like coming into your home by registering with the Direct Marketing Assn.'s Choice program at http://www.dmachoice.org. Registering online is free, but if you use the mail-in form, the cost is $1.

• Get off of some email lists at http://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/optoutemps.php. The ban will apply only to businesses that honor the Email Preference Service, sponsored by the Direct Marketing Assn.

• Tell financial institutions not to share your data. When you open an account with a bank, credit card company, brokerage firm or insurance company, you will likely be asked if the institution can share your data for marketing purposes. Just say no. If you are not offered a choice, ask to see the firm's privacy notice. It should include information on how to opt out.

scott.wilson@latimes.com

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