Protecting Yourself & Your Family


Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Consumers can protect themselves against identity theft by taking steps to reduce unwanted mail. Some forms of unsolicited mail can put consumers at risk of identity theft. Consumers can take control of their mailboxes by opting out of credit card offers, coupon packs and other types of unwanted mail. The four million tons of mail thrown out each year by households can become a gold mine for identity thieves.

Pre-approved credit card offers can be an easy target for identity thieves. They can steal incoming mail and use the offers to open fraudulent credit card accounts. Consumers can opt out of credit card offers for at least five years by calling 1-888-567-8688 or by visiting Your Social Security Number and birth date are required, but they are encrypted for your protection. The service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus.

Unsolicited mail that is addressed to children under 13 years old can be a sign that identity theft has occurred. If a child is getting unwanted mail, parents should contact the three credit bureaus and inform them of the situation. The credit bureaus and their numbers are:

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285.
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742.
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289.

Catalogs can easily overrun a consumer’s mailbox. Some catalog companies hand your address over to others, resulting in an avalanche of mail. You can ask individual companies to stop sending you catalogs by contacting them directly, or you can stop mass mailings by e-mailing Abacus, an alliance of catalog and publishing companies, at or by writing to Abacus Inc., P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80038.

Some mail can be stopped by contacting organizations that represent direct marketers. In some cases, codes or addresses from the mail may be required to process a request.

The Direct Marketing Association, a trade group representing 5,200 companies that use telephone, mail and the Internet to pitch products directly to consumers, gives consumers the option to opt out of mail. Consumers can go to It can take six months for the solicitations to stop.

Consumers can stop mailings of coupon packs by filling out an online request at or by contacting the sender of the packs.

To stop “resident” or “occupant” mailings, consumers can contact Valassis, formerly known as ADVO Inc. by calling 1-888-241-6760, by sending a written request to ADVO Inc. Customer Assistance, P.O. Box 249, Windsor, CT 06095 or by going to

For more advice on protecting yourself from identity theft or to check out a business or charity, go to Don’t assume anything until you’ve checked

Another Information Update for Facebook Users

Logging into your Facebook account from a public computer may seem very risky. With the large amounts of personal information contained within this space, you are at risk from a simple joke to something as serious as identity theft.

Facebook, the world's largest social network, has recently been working on new security features such as remote logout and one-time-use passwords for public computers, according to Mashable.

When you're at a public computer and you don’t want to run the risk of using your password, simply text "otp" to 32665 (your phone has to be linked to your Facebook account) and you will automatically receive a text message with a temporary password that can only be used once and expires in 20 minutes. One time use passwords are great for people who use public computers often at hotels or airports. Even if someone has installed a keylogger on a computer, your password will be safe because the temporary password will have already expired.

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