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How to Opt Out

Though there is not a "magic bullet" for opting out of everything, in one place, the following list of "Top 5 Marketing Annoyances and Privacy Violations" can help make the process of opting out a little less confusing. Plus, it's a great place to get yourself acquainted with the opt out process.

1. Put the Kibosh on Pre-Screened Credit Card Offers.

All four major credit-reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Trans Union and Innovis) allow you to take your name off the list they supply to all the major credit card companies. By requesting that your name be taken of the list, you will be free of unsolicited credit card offers for the next five years. You can opt out from these offers by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.

Further, when opting out from these free and prescreened credit offers you will be asked for name, address, Social Security number and date-of-birth. This personal information will be used to verify your identity and expedite the opt out process.

Last, if you happen to change your mind you can use the same Web site to opt back in to these prescreened offers. You also have the ability to remove yourself permanently from this list by mailing in a downloadable form here. If someone printed this out for you and you do not have a computer, you can opt out by calling 888-567-8688.

2. Stop Annoying Telemarketers That Call Your Home and Cell Phones.

This is pretty easy and works for both cell phone numbers and landlines. Pick up the phone and call 888-382-1222. Make sure that you are calling from the phone number that you want registered. Then, follow the automated instructions to register your number and have it put on the list.

Alternatively, if you prefer Web based methods, you can opt out of telemarketing calls by visiting www.donotcall.gov.

Whether you register via phone or Web, your number will need to be on the list for 31 days before you stop receiving calls from telemarketers. Your registration will be active for five years. After five years you will need to opt out again.

3. You Have Mail. Junk Mail!

Are you sick of receiving tons of unsolicited ads and mailers that just end up in your trash? If so, you can do something about it. You will need to add your name to the Direct Marketing Association's "Do Not Mail" list. Known as the "Mail Preference Service" or "MPS" this list is much like a SPAM filter for real life.

After putting your name on the list, it should take about 90 days for your real life SPAM filter to kick in. However, you will still receive some unsolicited mailers because not all marketers or members of the association.

Putting your name on the Direct Marketing Association's "Do Not Mail" list will cost $1.00. You can register for the list by visiting the Direct Marketing Association's Web site.

4. You Might Already Be So Rich! Yeah Right.

I may be so sick of getting these things that I can barely write about them. But, you can now watch the Super Bowl again without worrying about someone showing up at halftime with a huge check, literally it is like 3 feet tall and five feet wide. Plus, I think they show up in a 92 Ford Aerostar with a really bad balloon bouquet. Who wants that?

Now, you can opt out of Publisher's Clearinghouse mailers by phoning 1-800-645-9242 or email mailto:service@pchmail.com with your full address and instructions to remove from mailing list.

5. White pages, Yellow Pages and 411

Everyone has probably used directory assistance or a phone book or Online variation of one to find a phone number. Most of us also pay to have our numbers unlisted.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to opt out of all these services. Further, just paying to phone company to not list your number does not ensure your number will not be available. Each site has different policies and procedures for opting out of their databases.

While it would be quite ideal and very convenient to only have to opt out of only five sources, that is not the case. Sadly, there are many more sources, lists and companies that collect data about you. Some of these companies and lists you will recognize and others might just surprise you.