New Hampshire Does It Right
A Conversation with IBM (Part 2)

Opt-out Resources for Consumers

A prior post discussed the importance of shredding to reduce your risk of identity theft risk from pre-approved credit offers sent via snail-mail. While you can shred these snail-mail letters, we have no way of knowing if we have received all of our snail mail; especially if our snail-mail mailbox doesn't have a lock.

One solution is to opt-out of pre-screened credit and financial offers. Why? You have less to shred, and this reduces your risk of ID theft by thieves who scavenge snail-mail boxes. According to the Truston blog:

It occurred to me that with all the noise about different opt-out methods, by far the most important one to do is call your existing bank, credit union or card issuer and ask them to opt you out of all marketing offers, including (especially) any promo or convenience checks.

You know your bank and credit card issuer. Their phone number is on the reverse side of your cards. Call them today and tell them you don't want any pre-screened loan offers, credit card offers, or convenience checks. I did. And, I also visited these web sites:

  • The Do Not Call Registry operated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. This opt-out resource helps you eliminate pesky phone calls from telemarketing companies. Residents in some states should also consider the Telephone Preference Service opt-out operated by the Direct marketing Association (DMA).
  • The DMA also provides the E-mail Preference Service for consumers to opt-out of e-mail offers. This resource won't stop all e-mail offers; only those from companies that use the DMA to clean their e-mail lists.
  • The DMA also provides the Mail Preference Service for consumers to opt-out of snail-mail offers.
  • The Opt-out Pre-screen resource operated by the Consumer Credit Recording Industry. I've already noticed a reduction in the number of pre-approved snail-mail offers I receive.
  • To make it tougher for people to access your personal data, you can also contact your local phone company and opt-out of both the printed and online phone directories. I did many years ago. There is usually a monthly fee, which I feel is well worth it.

In an earlier blog entry, I commented about how the U.S. financial system is tilted towards making it easy for companies to share our credit information, and tilted away from strong protections for consumers. Notice the pattern with the above list of web sites. Consumers have to opt-out, which means the system's default is to automatically opt-in consumers. This is a good example of the "tilted" system.

Next entry: a conversation with IBM (part 2)


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