Junk Mail: How Did They All Get My Address?

Fact Sheet 4Junk Mail:
How Did They All Get My Address?

What we call junk mail is actually the result of direct marketing campaigns designed to get you to buy a product or service. It's called direct marketing because it attempts to match you and your buying preferences with offers that are likely to make you buy a product or service.

When you purchase a product or service and give the company your name and address, the chances are you are being added to one or more mailing lists used for direct marketing. This is true when you buy a car or a house, use a shopping card, sign up for a credit card, subscribe to a magazine, buy something from a catalog, give money to a charity, or fill out a product registration form.

Many people want to reduce or stop junk mail coming to them. Read our guide to learn about a variety of strategies you can use to get off direct marketing lists.

"Shine the Light" on Marketers: Find Out How They Know Your Name

Fact Sheet 4a"Shine the Light" on Marketers:
Find Out How They Know Your Name

These days you realize that it is no coincidence that junk mail and solicitations come tailored to your individual interests. What you may be in the dark about is whether it is your magazine subscription, gym, or bank that is responsible for sharing your information with other companies.

If you are a California resident, the "Shine the Light" law, implemented January 1, 2005, requires businesses to tell you with whom they have shared your information. (CA Civil Code 1798.83)  Read our guide to find how who has accessed your personal information and how to opt-out of of future sharing.  You can also learn what rights you have if a business refuses to disclose the source of the information they have on you.

Junk Mail FAQ

Fact Sheet 4bJunk Mail FAQ

New Look for Prescreened Credit and Insurance Offers

tarting August 1, 2005, unsolicited offers for credit or insurance that are based on information in your credit report should be easier to spot.

New regulations adopted by the Federal Trade Commission now require notices to prominently display the toll free number (1-888-5OPTOUT or 1-888-567-8688) to opt-out. Now, this number, along with a statement that you can stop the unsolicited offers, must appear - in at least 12-point type - on the first page of the offer.

Request Disclosure of Information Sharing Under California's Shine the Light Act

On January 1, 2005, California's Shine the Light Act came into effect. For more information about the Act, see the PRC's press release at www.privacyrights.org/ar/SB27Release.htm. In essence, certain businesses must provide California residents with a way to find out what personal information has been shared and with whom within the twelve months prior to receiving your request for disclosure.

California's "Shine the Light" Law Goes into Effect Jan. 1, 2005

When you’ve received junk mail, have you ever wondered which company provided your name and address to the marketer? Now you can find out. The “Shine the Light” law requires certain businesses to disclose their information-sharing practices with their customers. Upon request, companies must tell you with whom they have shared your personal information for marketing purposes within the last twelve months.

Consumer Notice Requirements for Opting Out of Pre-Approved Offers of Credit

For years, consumers have received preapproved credit offers with required notices and opt-out telephone numbers buried in fine print along with other mandatory legal notices. We support the Commission’s proposal to provide a layered notice. The proposal calls for a “short notice” on the principal promotional document. The short notice includes the most important information, including opt-out telephone number, with direction to a “long notice” located elsewhere in the solicitation.

Calling All Direct Marketers to Heed the "Fair Information Practices"

In our nearly five years of experience in operating the hotline for California consumers, no other topic has garnered the response that unwanted mail does -- not even media reports on medical records or workplace privacy, where the consequences of privacy abuse are likely to be far more serious. In 1994, unwanted mail was the number one topic of complaint on the hotline, accounting for nearly one-third of calls.

What's going on here?

Our analysis of the "junk mail phenomenom" focuses on control. Every day, consumers are reminded that they have virtually no control over what enters their mail box.

Junk Mail Blues: From the PRC Log Files

September 1, 1995

Christy reports that she obtained our "junk mail" fact sheet a year ago and shared the information with several friends. They've all succeeded in stopping most of their unwanted mail. But they can't stop the flyers and advertising supplements.

RV Full-timing and Privacy Protection (Dippel)

If you really want to go “underground” and avoid junk mailers, living in an RV can help you achieve almost invisible status. Once you live in an RV (and have sold your home), you will no longer be listed on a property tax web site, for all junk mailers to see and to come after you!  Further, you will no longer need accounts with utility companies, as RV parks provide the utilities.

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