Unwanted telephone calls, pre-approved credit card offers and texts are not only annoying, they also can potentially lead to identity theft. But how do you stop them?
While it's nearly impossible to completely eliminate junk mail, spam text messages and unwanted phone calls, the Better Business Bureau recommends taking the following steps for getting your inboxes and phone lines under control:
Set up a 2nd email account - Use one of your accounts for personal email and the other to sign up for special offers or discount cards. Also, provide as little personal information as possible. Just because a website or retailer asks for your address, telephone numbers or email address doesn't mean you are obliged to provide them.
Stop pre-approved credit card offers at optoutprescreen.com - Pre-approved credit card offers are an easy target for identity thieves who can steal incoming mail and use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. You can "opt-out" of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visiting: optoutprescreen.com. This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus.
Put the brakes on unwanted marketing mail -To stop most mailings, visit dmachoice.org and opt-out of mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association. DMA regularly updates its list, but it may take up to six months before solicitations from all DMA members stop.
Reduce telemarketing calls - The National Do Not Call Registry is a free, convenient way to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive at home. To register your phone number or find out more about the registry, visit donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will receive fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Although this will not stop illegal calls, it allows you to file a complaint when the caller is identifiable.
Prevent spam text messages - Telemarketing calls and text messaging to cell phones are illegal, unless you grant permission. If you receive an unwanted marketing text message, contact your wireless provider to get any charges for the text removed, and to block the sender's number. BBB recommends against responding to spam texts, because doing so confirms a working number and opens the door for more text messages.