The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 50 percent
of junk mail in America is discarded without being opened, totaling more than 3
million tons of waste annually. Not only does this create an environmental
burden, it also opens the door for fraud artists to take advantage of
consumers reduce junk mail and protect themselves from identity theft, Better
Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (bbb.org)
offers the following opt-out tips:
Consumers’ mailboxes can often be overrun with catalogs, even if
they've never shopped with the company before. This is likely because those
consumers have, at some point, made a catalog or online purchase with a company
that handed over their contact information to Abacus, an alliance of catalog and
publishing companies. To stop individual catalog deliveries, consumers can
contact the specific company in question. To stop mass mailings, consumers can
email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Abacus,
Inc., P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, Colorado 80038.
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
3. 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.
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.
5. "Resident" and
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.
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.
b. Experian: 1-888-397-3742
“Americans are inundated with junk mail every day,” says
Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina.
“Opting-out can reduce the environmental impact of junk mail, as well as help
consumers protect their identities.”
Barfield also recommends shredding
all documents that contain sensitive information. To further assist consumers,
BBB is hosting its semi-annual “Secure Your ID” Day on Saturday, April 16, 2011
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 headquarters on
St. Albans Drive in Raleigh. These documents will be shredded for free, on the
spot. BBB and sponsoring organizations will also 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
Security and Cintas Document Management. Additional event
information is available at www.easternnc.bbb.org/secure-your-id.