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by thePrivacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC). In some cases, the items have beenreformatted locally for online presentation. Index descriptions for FTP/listserv/ gopher access have been chosen locally. Other than suchformatting and index descriptions, all information below in this file is theresponsibility of the PRC, and any questions regarding that informationshould be directed to the PRC at:Phone: 619-298-3396 (800-773-7748 Calif. only)Fax: 619-260-4753E-mail: -------------------------------------------------------------------------Privacy Rights ClearinghouseFact Sheet #4 Junk Mail: How Did They All Get My Address? While your mother may have told you that a person's mail isprivate, in this day of computerized mailing lists, your name andaddress certainly aren't. Chances are, your mailbox isoverflowing with catalogs, sale notices, prize offers and other" deals" which you never requested and may not want.If you do not want others to have access to your name, addressand buying habits, or if you are tired of throwing away unwantedmail, there are several steps you can take to get off mailinglists. You must be persistent, and you won't get rid of it all.But you can substantially reduce the amount of junk mail youreceive.How did I get on these lists in the first place? How can I getoff?Every time you provide your name and address to receive a productor service, there's a good chance you are being added to one ormore mailing lists. When you buy a car, have a baby, make apurchase from a catalog, give money to a charity or fill out aproduct registration card, your name is likely to be entered intoa computer data base.Public records. When you make virtually any major lifestylechange, a government agency records the event. Many such filesare open to the public, including: birth certificates, marriagelicenses, home sales records, and the Post Office's change ofaddress form. Public records are one way companies selling baby items, for example, can mail advertisements to new parents justdays after the birth of a child. Mail-reduction tips. You usually cannot have governmentrecords about you kept confidential. Therefore, contact companiesindividually when they put you on a mailing list compiled frompublic records. For example, if you buy a house and receive homeimprove-ment and insurance solicitations you do not want, you cando three things: (1) Write to the company and ask to be taken offits mailing list. (2)

Envelopes with "Address CorrectionRequested" or "Return Postage Guaranteed" can be returnedunopened by writing "Refused--Return to Sender" on the envelope.The company will have to pay the return postage. (3) If there isa postage-paid return envelope, put all of the information in thereturn envelope with a note that you wish to have your nameremoved from the mailing list.The Post Office makes its change of address file available tomajor mailing list companies. To avoid receiving solicitations aimed at "new movers," contact friends, family and companies withwhom you do business directly and do not fill out the PostOffice's change of address form.Mail order, credit cards and magazines. If you are on the mailinglist of one mail order company, you are likely to be on the listof several. Most mail order firms "rent" their mailing list toother businesses. Many credit card companies also rent theirmailing lists, as do magazines. Therefore, if you subscribe to acooking magazine, you may find yourself receiving mail ordercatalogs for kitchen supplies and food specialties. Mailreduction tips. Write to the Direct MarketingAssociation's (DMA) Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008,Farmingdale, NY 11735. Tell the DMA you do not want to receivecatalogs and other promotional material through the mail. Theywill put you into the "delete" file which is sent to the DMA'smember organizations four times a year. Companies that do not participate in the Direct MarketingAssociation program must be contacted directly. Notify thecompany's customer service department and request that your nameand address not be provided to other companies. Be sure tocontact magazines to which you subscribe as well as charities,nonprofit organizations and community groups to which you haveeither donated money or joined. Many credit card companies will delete your name from the liststhey rent and sometimes even from the list they use to send theirown promotional materials to their customer s. (They will,however, continue to send you your bill.) Write to the customer service department and request your name be removed from thelists they rent to others and from their "in-house" mailing list.Credit bureaus. Companies with whom you do business provideinformation to credit bureaus on how much you owe, how promptlyyou pay your bills and the types of purchases you make. Whilemany credit bureaus rent lists, they do not disclose specificinformation such as what you owe or to whom. Rather, they

compilelists based on consumer characteristics. An example would be alist of people who have an income of over $30,000 a year, usecredit cards and pay their bills on time. If you fall into acategory such as this, you may receive "pre-approved" credit cardoffers in the mail. Mail-reduction tips. The three major credit reporting firmsare: Equifax, Trans Union and TRW. Write to each and ask to beremoved from their marketing mailing lists. o Equifax Options, Equifax Marketing Decision Systems, Inc., P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123. o Trans Union 555 West Adams St., 8th Floor, Chicago, IL 60661. o TRW, Target Marketing Services Division, Attn: Mail Preference Service, 901 N. International Parkway, Suite 191, Richardson, TX75081.Registration cards.


aware that warranty or "productregistration" cards have less to do with warranties than they dowith mailing lists. These cards may ask you what hobbies you have, how many people are in your household and your householdincome--information the company obviously does not require toguarantee the product.Such registration cards are generally not mailed to the companythat manufactured the product, but to a post office box of theNational Demographics and Lifestyles Company in Denver, Colorado.This company compiles buyer profiles and sells the information toother companies for marketing purposes. Mail-reduction tips. When you buy a product, don't fill outthe product registration card. In most cases your receipt ensuresthat you are covered by the warranty if the product is defective.If you decide to send the registration card, include only minimalinformation--name, address, date of purchase and product serialnumber. (For some products you may want the company to have arecord of your purchase in case there is a safety recall.)Also, write to National Demographics and Lifestyles and ask themto delete you from their mailing lists: National Demographics andLifestyles, List Order Department, 1621 18th Street, Suite 300Denver, Colorado 80202.Price

scanners. A new way of compiling mailing lists and buyerprofiles is through price scanners. Scanners help businesses keeptrack of their inventory and speed service at the check-outcounter. They can also be used to link your name to your purchases , especially if you are using the store's "buyers club"card.When this card is "swiped" through the card reader at the check-out stand, your name and address, stored in the

card's magneticstrip, are matched against a record of the scanned items. Storesgenerally offer product discounts as an incentive to use thecard.The store may use this information to mail coupons and otherspecial offers to you and share the information with productmanufacturers. So, for example, if you buy one type of soda atthe grocery store you might receive coupons from a rival softdrink company to induce you to switch brands. Mail-reduction tips. If you do not want information compiledabout your personal buying habits through the use of price scanners, don't participate in the store's "buyers club." You mayalso want to pay cash at businesses which use scanners, sincetechnology may allow the company to store your name and addressif you pay by check or credit card.Phone books. If you are listed in the White Pages of thetelephone book, your name, address and phone number are, for allpractical purposes, public record. Mailing list companies collectthis information and sell it to mail order companies andmarketing firms. In addition to the White Pages, the phonecompany and other companies compile directories organized byaddress and phone number rather than by name. If you are listedin the White Pages, you are also in one or more of these "streetaddress directories." Mailreduction tips. If you are concerned about keeping yourname and address private, consider having an unlisted number. Orrequest that the local phone company publish just your name andphone number and omit your address. In addition, ask the phonecompany to remove your listing from its "street addressdirectory." Also, write the major directory companies andrequest that your listing be removed: o Haines & Co., Criss-Cross Directory, 2382 East Walnut Ave., Fullerton, CA 92631. o R. L. Polk & Co., List Compilation & Development, 6400 to

Monroe Blvd., Taylor, MI 48180-1814. o Rueben H. Donnelley Corp., 287 Bowman Ave ., Purchase, NY 10577.Mailing list companies. There are a number of companies whichpurchase and collect information from government records,telephone books, association membership rosters and othersources. They compile mailing lists and sel l them for marketingpurposes. Mail-reduction tips. To be removed from the lists of themajor companies that sell mailing lists, write to these firms: o R.L. Polk & Company, List Compilation & Development, 6400 Monroe Blvd., Taylor,

MI 48180-1814.



Marketing, Inc., Data Base Operations,


"N" Ave., Nevada, IA 50201-1419. o Metromail Corp., List Maintenance, 901 West Bond, Lincoln, NE 68521. o Database America, Comp. Dept., 100 Paragon Dr., Montvale, NJ 07645-0419. o Dunn & Bradstreet, Customer Svc., 899 Eaton Ave., Bethleham, PA 18025.What if I only want to stop part of my junk mail?Junk mail is only junk when you don't want to receive it. You may want to be on some mailing lists.If you want to receive some of this mail, do not contact theDirect Marketing Association and ask to be taken off all mailinglists. Rather, notify companies individually and tell them youwant your name removed from their lists. Also, tell the companiesyou do business with to keep your name and address private. Agrowing number of businesses which rent their mailing lists areincluding statements in their catalogs to let you know you havethis option.For more informationJoin the Stop Junk Mail Association. The SJMA provides a mailinglist name deletion service for its members and lobbies on behalfof postal privacy rights. For more information on SJMA services,write to: 3020 Bridgeway #150, Sausalito, CA 94965. (800) 827-5549. Order the informative 16-page booklet "Stop Junk Mail Forever" bysending $2.00 to Good Advice Press, P.O. Box 78, Elizaville, NY12523.The Direct Marketing Association has free brochures on directmarketing practices. Contact the DMA at 11 West 42nd St., NewYork, NY 10036-8096.For more information on junk mail and other privacy-relatedissues, contact the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse hotline at1-800-773-7748. NOTE: The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse does not rent, sell or trade its mailing list with any other organization or company. Your name and address are kept completely confidential.......November 1992 ...... Revised Feb. 1993

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