BBB Offers Six Tips to Reduce Junk Mail
RALEIGH, N.C. (October 14, 2010) ― According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away more than 4 million tons of junk mail each year, making the garbage can a goldmine for fraud artists. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (bbb.org) offers six opt-out methods to help consumers reduce junk mail and protect themselves against identity theft.
1. Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
Pre-approved credit card offers are an easy target for identity thieves. They can steal incoming mail and use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. Stopping these pre-screened credit offers can help reduce the chances of identity theft.
To "opt-out" of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years, and perhaps permanently, consumers can call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit: www.optoutprescreen.com. This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers will be asked for personal information, including their name, address, birth date and Social Security Number. This information is only used to process requests and will remain confidential. This procedure will need to be followed for each adult family member.
2. Solicitations Sent to Children
If a child under age 13 is being mailed advertisements or credit card offers, it could be a sign that identity theft has occurred. Parents should contact the three major credit reporting bureaus, listed below, and inform them of the situation.
a. Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
b. Experian: 1-888-397-3742
c. TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Consumers’ mailboxes can often be overrun with catalogues, even if they've never shopped with the company before. This is likely because those consumers have, at some point, made a catalogue or online purchase with a company that handed over their contact information to Abacus, an alliance of catalogue and publishing companies. To stop individual catalogue deliveries, consumers can contact the specific company in question. To stop mass mailings, consumers can e-mail, email@example.com, or write to Abacus, Inc., P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, Colorado 80038.
4. Direct Mail Offers
Direct Marketing Association is a trade group with 5,200 member companies that use telephone, mail, and the Internet to pitch their products directly to consumers. To stop receiving mailings from DMA members, consumers can go to www.dmachoice.org. DMA regularly updates its list, but the companies it notifies to remove names from their mailing lists may not be as prompt to act. It may take as long as six months before solicitations from all DMA members stop.
5. Coupon Packs
To stop receiving coupon packs, consumers can fill out an online request form at: www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm. Other requests can be directed to the sender on the printed envelope received.
6. "Resident" and "Occupant" Mailings
Consumers can remove their address from "resident" and "occupant" mailings that offer various goods and services by contacting Valassis—formerly known as ADVO, Inc.—either by phone 1-888-241-6760, or through an online form at www.advo.com/consumersupport.html. Consumers can also send a written request to ADVO, Inc. Customer Assistance, P.O. Box 249, Windsor, Connecticut 06095.
“With ID theft on the rise, it is essential that consumers take action to protect themselves,” says Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Opting-out of unnecessary junk mail is a simple step that can reduce unwanted stress and prevent the loss of money or other valuables.”
A 2010 Javelin Strategy and Research survey on ID theft estimates that more than 11.1 million Americans were victimized in 2009. This is an increase of 34 percent since 2007 and resulted in the loss of more than $54 billion.
Baskin also recommends shredding all documents that contain sensitive information, or that can be used to activate an account. To further assist consumers BBB is hosting “Secure Your ID” Day on Saturday, October 23 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring up to three bags or boxes of documents to the Coastal Federal Credit Union, located off Wake Forest Road at 1000 St. Albans Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609. These documents will be shredded for free, on the spot. BBB and sponsoring organizations will be distributing tips and information to help consumers protect their identity, both online and off.
BBB’s “Secure Your ID” Day is locally presented by Coastal Federal Credit Union, with free shredding provided by ProShred Security and Cintas Document Management. Nationally, BBB has partnered with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to host the event as part of the second annual National Protect Your Identity Week, October 17-23, 2010. Additional event information is available at www.easternnc.bbb.org/secure-your-id.
About BBB serving Eastern North Carolina:
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in Eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 2,900 local businesses and professional firms. The BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by the BBB include, reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit bbb.org.
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Brian Van Norman