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.