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.

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 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.

Junk Faxes: They Are Now OK with a "Business" Relationship

Until recently, the law on fax advertising was simple and straightforward: No one could send a fax advertisement without your prior consent. Of course, this did not stop the deluge of unwanted faxes touting hot stocks, mortgage offers, and vacation deals. Now, adding to the frustration, Congress has created an exception for fax advertisements sent when you have an “established business relationship,” or EBR, with the sender.

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.

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.

Sign Up for the Direct Marketing Assoc.'s MPS, Form Letter

Sample letter to sign up for Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service.




To the Mail Preference Service:

Please register my name and address with the Mail Preference Service. 

Please set my preferences as follows:


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