In response to inquiries about reducing unwanted calls, mail and e-mail, below are websites and numbers to call to help address this problem.
Using your phone wisely can reduce unwanted callers: Use caller ID before answering calls. If it’s an 800 number, "private caller," or a name or number you don’t recognize, let the answering machine pick up.
If you are receiving “phantom calls,” no one is on the line when you answer the phone, chances are it’s a “robot call." The day and time you picked up the phone is filed away so that a telemarketer will know when you are home and likely to answer the phone. Another variation of this is the “one-ring” scam. The phone rings once and hangs up. Out of curiosity, many will call back unknowingly to a premium rate number that connects to anything from advertising, to music, to would-be psychics, and even pornography. The longer you stay on the line, the more charges rack up on your phone bill, and the scammers receive part of this money.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can stop unsolicited calls, mail and e-mail in the following manner:
Don’t want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you can a) opt out of receiving them for five years by calling 1-800-567-8688 or going to www.optoutprescreen.com or b) opt out permanently by going to online www.optoutprescreen.com and completing your request. You must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.
Stop Telemarketers: The federal government's National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register.
Stop Unsolicited Mail & E-Mail: The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a "delete" file and made available to direct-mail marketers and organizations. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA's Mail Preference Service.
To register with DMA's Mail Preference Service, go to www.dmachoice.org The DMA also has an Email Preference Service (eMPS) to help you reduce unsolicited commercial emails. To opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial email from DMA members, visit www.dmachoice.org. Registration is free and good for six years.
Another option is registering with Catalog Choice, a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.
Reducing Mail and Phone Appeals from Charities: Because many charities and non profits are not part of the DMA list, you will continue to receive unwanted solicitation. Consider the following:
• Only donate to charities with a demonstrated commitment to donor privacy.
• The more small donations you give to charities, the more begging letters you will receive. Keep in mind that a $25 donation barely covers their expenses so to recoup costs, they sell your name. Instead, give larger donations to a few charities. The larger the gift the less likely your name will be passed on.
• Give anonymously.
• When you give money to a charity or nonprofit group enclose a note requesting that the organization not rent, sell or exchange your name, address and giving history with anyone else. A number of charities have “opt out” features. Make sure you check that box.
• Call or mail the charity letting them know that if they continue to make unsolicited contact you will no longer support them.
• First class mail can be returned unopened with “deceased” written across the envelope.
• Don’t open the letters depositing them directly into the Zero Sort pile.