Your name, address, and buying habits are a commodity that is regularly sold and traded on the open market. These days, organizations you deal with virtually all sell your name unless you specifically ask them to stop. Here are some general techniques.
Whenever you donate money, order a product or service, or fill out a warranty card, write in large letters, Please do not sell my name or address. Most organizations will properly mark your name in the computer.
"Contests" where you fill in a little entry blank are almost always a fishing expedition for names. If you fill one out at a football game, for example, expect to get a catalog of football merchandise within a few months.
Product warranty cards are often used to collect information on your buying habits and income. They are not required in most instances.
You credit card company probably sells your name the most often. Call them and ask them to stop.
On the telephone, ask Please mark my account so that my name is not traded or sold to other companies.
Select a false middle name or initial for each charity or business you deal with. Keep track of which letter goes with which organization. You can also select a false road designator, "avenue, place, circle, street, highway, parkway, etc." This step can be very revealing. Some guides recommend changing the spelling of your name, but this can lead to duplicate mailings.
Stop Unwanted Junk Mail
The amount of junk mail sent each year in the United States is staggering - some 4 million tons, nearly half of which is never opened. Even if you recycle there are still enormous environmental costs in terms of ink; energy to produce, deliver, and recycle the paper; recycling inefficiencies and loss of virgin forest to create the high quality glossy paper much junk mail uses. There is a lot you can do.
Credit offers: Direct mail and credit card companies generate mail based on demographics including zip code, income and credit payment patterns. One call does it for all agencies Equifax, Trans Union, Experian, and Innovix. Dial 1-888-567-8688, 24 hours a day.
Catalogs: Call the company's 800 number and have the label handy.
American Family Sweepstakes: Ed McMahon & Dick Clark will stop telling you, "You have definitely won 25 million dollars (maybe)" if you call them at 1-800-237-2400.
Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes: Contact their customer services department at 1-800-645-9242 (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST); sending a fax to 1-800-453-0272; mailing to 101 Channel Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050; or you can send e-mail to email@example.com. PCH will remove any number of names from a specific address, but you have to list each exactly and insist nicely.
America On-Line Discs: Call 1-800-827-6365 (6 a.m. to 2 a.m. EST) to get off the list.
Too Much Junk Mail to Deal with Individually
To remove your name from most bulk mailing lists, send a letter to the Direct Mail Preference Service. Be sure to list your name including any variations; i.e. S. Smith, S.M. Smith, Sue Smith, Susan Smith. You can write one letter for all members of your household including that very important "Resident". Mail this letter to:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
You can also send a letter or call:
Stop Junk Mail Association
3020 Bridgeway #150
Sausalito, CA 94965