Opting Out

An article this weekend in The New York Times advised consumers how to opt-out of marketing solicitations. What’s most interesting is their relative ineffectiveness. The strongest opt-out program is the federal government’s Do No Call list for landlines and cellphones, but even it allows exceptions for political and non-profit solicitations. I’ve summarized the article’s recommendations for three of the most annoying types of solicitation, in decreasing order of effectiveness.

  • Phone Solicitations: Visit http://donotcall.gov/ or call (888) 382-1222 from the phone number you wish to add to the Do Not Call list. The listing is good for five years, so make a note (however you do such things) to renew the registration before it expires.
  • Junk Mail: Complete the form online at http://www.the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html or write the Direct Marketing Association with the address you wish to block at Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512. This is not a sure-fire solution because not every retailer follows the DMA’s rules, but it is better than nothing.
  • EMail: Do not respond to unsolicited email, and do not select its “opt-out” provision. Doing so confirms to the sender that a live human being has read the email, making you a very hot prospect who will receive more spam. There are no good solutions to spam. A spam filter will help either block receipt of spam or segregate for easy deletion. Spam filters can block legitimate mail so it’s a good idea to scan message subject lines before deleting them. The article recommends not posting your email address in public forums but at best this might–might–make it harder for spammers to obtain your address. An address can still be spammed even if it is not posted anywhere online.

The article also has information about dealing with credit card solicitations. I’ve not tried them and they require providing personal information including social security numbers, which I’m reluctant to pass on. Read the article if you want more information.

4 thoughts on “Opting Out”

  1. My home phone # has been on the Do Not Call list since 2005, and the service has been ineffective. My family quickly added our # on the list after getting numerous of calls from telemarketers on weekdays from morning to evening time. It was tiring to pick up the phone and here someone trying to sell us something, especially when I was expecting an important phone call. Now, even on the list, my family still gets calls from the telemarketers, more than ever before. Calls are as late as 9PM and are even frequent on Saturdays. Although we now have a caller ID and can choose not to pick up the phone, it’s still annoying to see “Unavailable” or “1-800…” on the screen. Some calls are reasonable, such as credit card companies and banks that my family uses, seeking to speak with one of us about an account. However, I believe that through them, other random companies get our contact information, and somehow neglect that we are on the Do Not Call list. Nonetheless, thanks to the article, I can let my family members know where to file a complaint and perhaps register our number again.

  2. my dad put his telephone number on the “do not call list” however i did not. Either way, both of us have received very limited, if any, solicitations. perhaps this list gives a false sense of secucity to people considering jtran3 still receivevs solicitations.

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