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Introduction

Mission

Optout.com was founded to assist consumers in keeping their private and identifiable information confidential. Moreover, the people behind Optout.com realized that many consumers were not aware of what information about them was publicly available. Therefore, Optout.com seeks to educate and inform consumers not only how to opt out of public records sources, but also to recognize the many entities that collect and sell your private identifiable data.

How your personal information is collected

First, it is important to make yourself aware of at what point and who is collecting data about you. Almost everyone has seen and probably entered a drawing for a free car. Thought those that entered the drawing know that it is not likely that they will win, there is one thing they are not aware of. The personal information entered on the raffle slip will most-likely be used and sold for direct marketing purposes. Personal information is a very valuable commodity and is collected from a number of unassuming services that we tend to use on a quite regular basis--not just raffles. Therefore, the approach taken to keep your personal information confidential and private must be varied as well. One of the best means of keeping your information confidential is to be aware of where and how information about you is collected. Some of the most common methods that companies and marketers use to collect and sell your personal information are:

  1. Supermarket Rewards Cards Every time anyone makes a purchase from a grocery store or drugstore with a loyalty or "rewards" card, that information is used to build a very personal profile of your shopping habits.
  2. Product Warranty and Registration Cards Do you fill out the warranty and product registration cards for every new product you purchase? If so, you probably assume this is standard pro-cedure for making sure your warranty is valid. In fact, warranty and product registration cards do very little for the consumer. Moreover, all your personal information on warranty cards is collected and used for marketing purposes.
  3. Raffles and Sweepstakes Though raffles and sweepstakes offer a one-in-a-million chance of win-ning some type of luxury item, free gym memberships or dream vacations you should be aware how your contact information is used. Often, you are asked to proved Name, address and phone number as a means of contacting you in the event you should win. In reality, this information is used for direct marketing purposes
  4. Your Credit Report Many credit card companies often contact consumer credit reporting agencies to obtain a list of possible new clients. Specifically, credit card companies will ask for a list of persons with a minimum credit score. After obtaining that list, credit card companies will send out offers stating that you have been "pre-approved" for a credit card.
  5. Internet Cookies Many Web sites use cookies or small text files that are stored on your hard drive to collect and store information about you and your Web surfing habits. Cookies allow advertisers to deliver "personalized" advertisements to individuals based on their Web surfing habits. Cookies will "remember" how many times you have visited a site, what items you have purchased and what types of Web sites you visit.

Cookies can also be helpful in that they can remember usernames and passwords for sites that you visit often and also your preferences for a given site. By storing this information for you, cookies can add to your overall Web surfing experience. Therefore you should evaluate most cookies on a case-by-case basis to determine if you should opt out or not.

Other Ways Your Data is Collected

You do not always have to enter a raffle or surf the Internet for someone to collect personal data about you. In fact, many of the activities and responsibilities you have as a member of society, property owner and licensed driver contribute to what is known as your "Public Profile." Your public profile can contain information about where you live, your name, your phone number and even what you paid for your home. And your public profile is accessible to anyone for any reason.