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How to get off junk mail, call lists

Tired of junk mail and telemarketing calls? There are steps you can take to avoid them. By Kelvin Collins We all react differently to marketing approaches, especially those delivered right to our homes. What some may consider convenient others may view as invasions of privacy. For instance, the ads we see online are often based on our Internet browsing activity or purchase history. While some people enjoy receiving catalogs and pre-approved credit card offers, others consider these offers a nuisance. Most people are annoyed by overly persistent telemarketers. Many of these unsolicited offers can be avoided. The BBB, the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies offer seven simple ways to help protect your privacy online and off, avoid unwanted calls and secure your identity. Get off mailing lists: The Direct Marketing Association allows you to remove your address from mailing lists which send marketing materials based on your past purchases and interests (e.g. magazine offers). Keep the mail you want, block materials you’re not interested in. Opt-out of online behavioral advertising: Some online ads are customized as you browse the web, based on your interests. The Digital Advertising Alliance consumer choice page allows you to opt-out of receiving ads from participating ad networks. Stop pre-approved credit card offers: You have the right to opt-out of being included on lists companies use to mail you credit card and insurance offers. The BBB is aware you will be asked for your Social Security number. This is a secure site which BBB employees themselves have used. Block telemarketing calls: The National Do Not Call Registry helps you to limit the telemarketing calls you receive. Exceptions include polling, surveys and fundraisers from political parties and non-profit organizations. Once you register your phone number, covered telemarketers have up to 31 days to stop calling you. Add a security freeze: A security freeze locks down your credit reports so criminals can’t access your credit to open unauthorized accounts (existing credit accounts are not impacted). In Georgia there is no fee for senior citizens 65 and older and identity theft victims. All others pay $3 for each credit reporting agency for a total of $9 to place, temporarily lift or remove the freeze. To be effective, a freeze must be implemented with all three credit reporting agencies. Experian: TransUnion: Equifax: Place a fraud alert : A fraud alert is a less drastic measure than a security freeze. An alert flags your credit reports, alerting lenders to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name. Fraud alerts are free, but rely on the diligence of the person performing the credit check. Fraud alerts must be reinstated every 90 days in most cases. You only need to contact one credit reporting agency to place an alert — it must notify the others. Experian: TransUnion: www. Equifax: Check your credit reports: Monitoring your credit reports is key to catching identity theft early. Anyone can request a free copy of their report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Georgia residents get two free copies. Spacing these checks out allows you to monitor your credit throughout the year. Protecting your identity and privacy can be achieved by arming yourself with the information and resources that are available to us as consumers. For more tips on protecting yourself, visit Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at 478-742-7999, or

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