Consumer IQ

Silence the Sales Pitches

If popularity were measured by telemarketing calls and bulk-rate marketing pitches, I’d be the Julia Roberts of junk mail.

One month, I counted 92 telemarketing calls, 17 preapproved credit card offers, and a full recycling bin’s worth of fliers for satellite TV service (for the three extra rooms I don’t have), foreclosure avoidance help (despite my up-to-date mortgage payments and good credit), and consolidation deals (for my nonexistent “student loans).

Americans get more than 4 million tons of junk mail a year. (Not surprisingly, storage is a $2 billion-a-year business.) Our response? Call off the dogs already!

Did you throw away your “Do Not Disturb” sign?

Once a year, financial companies with which you hold accounts will ask whether it’s OK to share your name with “partners.” (Yeah, I tossed mine in the trash, too.) Other institutions have 18 months from the time of your last interaction to make contact (three months if you simply made an inquiry).

To get the businesses you know to stop bugging you, you can request another opt-out notice, or ask to be put on their internal do-not-call list. (To report abuse, go to www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.)

Some companies will do the legwork for you, and, for a fee, opt you out of telemarketing calls and junk mail. Better yet, you can use the opt-out list we lovingly compiled to do the exact same thing for free!

Dear [blank]: Buzz off!

Give your shredder, your mail carrier’s back, and your phone battery a break with this opt-out contact list.

Real estate-related pitches

  • Acxiom (provides tax assessor public records for marketing use): Opt-Outs/Consumer Advocacy, P.O. Box 2000, Conway, AR 72033-2000; 877-774-2094; or email optoutUS@acxiom.com
  • Innovis: 888-567-8688

List vendors

According to Junkbusters.com, the largest marketing list-sellers house data on more than 90 million households. Contacting the following big guns will significantly cut the clutter:

  • Abacus: P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80038 or email optout@abacus-us.com
  • InfoUSA: Product Quality, P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE 68127 or 888-633-4402
  • The Polk Company: Opt-Out Coordinator, 26955 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48034-8455 or 800-873-7655
  • LexisNexis: Download the form at www.lexisnexis.com and mail to P.O. Box 933, Dayton, OH 45401. (Opt-out provisions are limited to ID theft victims or those whose safety would be at risk if their information were exposed.)
  • Metromail: Consumer Services, 901 West Bond, Lincoln, NE 68521 or 800-228-4571, ext. 4633

For more on keeping yourself underexposed, check out privacyrights.org and junkbusters.com.