Protecting Your Identity and Privacy

BY Beth Williams
Safeguarding our identity and privacy should be a part of our everyday lives, however many of us are not aware of the various resources to assist us with this endeavor.  There are 5 kinds of Identity Theft but most people are just aware of credit card identity theft. That is just 20% of the problem. Here are all five.

1) Driver’s License Identity Theft

2) Social Security Number Identity Theft

3) Character/Criminal Identity Theft

4) Medical Identity Theft

5) Financial Identity Theft

Many privacy experts advocate the limiting of giving out our personal information to companies. Many of us don’t think much about giving out or basic information such as our address and phone number, but hesitate when it comes to more critical information such as our social security and credit card number. But even the basic information is used to build more and more profiles on us which is why protecting the basic information is just as important.

One of the easiest ways to help limit the exposure of our personal information is to make sure we diligently use “opt-out” lists. The following a few of the most common organizations and marketing companies that allow you opt-out of their lists.

Cell Phone and Smart Phone Information

Know that your smartphone and the apps you download gives away a significant information about you – especially every time you download a smartphone app – especially those that are free.  Watch this YouTube video of a recent story on Fox News

Video on how pictures you take with you phone and them posted online and show the world where you are, live, and other private information you may be surprised is shared with the world

Here is another video to watch which highlights what you give up when someone goes to download a simple stock app


Consumer Reports Article on Health Apps and Privicy

Stop Junk Mail, Email and Phone Calls

Junk mail seems to be one of the things in life that it seems that we have to live with, however you can do several things that can help reduce the amount of it. The following are a few pro-active ideas you start right away:

  • Anytime you fill out any type of warranty card, order a product or service, or donate money, write in large letters “DO NOT SELL MY NAME OF ADDRESS”
  • Anytime you speak to a customer service representative of a company you deal with ask them to mark your account so that your name, account information, address, or other information is not sold, rented, traded, or given away.
  • Call you credit card companies and inform then that you do not want your personal information given to anyone other organization, sold, rented, or given away.
  • Always be aware that anytime you fill out a contest form you are almost always giving away your information to be sold or given away to someone else.

Stopping Unsolicited Mail, Phone Calls, and Email

Coupon Mailers

PennySaver of California

You can remove your name and address from these mailings by calling:

(800) 422-4116 There are many companies that distribute many (but not all) of the coupon envelopes that are sent to you. With many of these organizations, their opt-out service only lasts for five years.

Val-Pak Coupons

Val-Pak maintains regional lists, not a central one. Send your request to the address printed on the envelope you receive.

Carol Wright

Call 1-800-67-TARGET to get off the list or go to the above website and click on “Contact Us” then under Electronic Mail click on the e-mail address for Customer Service. Request from Customer Services to be removed from their mailing list by providing them with your name, address and account number as it appears on the back of the catalog. Your account number is in the pick box list.

Catalogs, mail order lists and magazines

Abacus (owned by DoubleClick)

When you buy something from a mail order catalog, your transaction is likely to be reported to Abacus, owned by DoubleClick Digital Advertising. Members of the Abacus Alliance, an estimated 1800 catalog companies, also work with a variety of other publishing companies who contribute and exchange information about their customers. Call the below phone number to get the instructions to be removed from their list: Phone 800 518-4453 or 303.657.2800

First class and some bulk mail:

If the former residents neglected to fill out a Post Office change of address card, or it expired, you can fill one out for them. You must fill out one card for each unique last name. Write “Moved, Left No Forwarding Address” as the new address. Sign your own name and write “Form filled in by current resident of the house, [Your Name], agent for the above”. You must write “agent for the above”. Hand this form directly to your carrier, if possible, as your carrier must approve the form and see that it gets entered into the post service National Change of Address (NCOA) database. This is very effective.

Deceased Persons

Register names of deceased:

The Direct Marketing Association gives you the ability to register the names of deceased loved ones with their Deceased Do Not Contact list (DDNC) at:    They have a second website for deceased person registration which can be found here:

U.S. Post Office – Information regarding managing mail for the deceased:

Financial Industry

FTC Credit Card Opt Out Information Page

Phone: 888-567-8688, aka 1-888-5-OPT-OUT

Note: This voice prompted service will remove you from the credit card marketing lists of Equifax, Experian, TransUnion,as well as this TransUnion Op Out page also, as well as Innovis. It will take your pertinent information including your Social Security Number.

Banking and Insurance Industry Opt Out Information

Many of the financial institutions you deal with have to be personally notified that you wish to opt out of their direct mail mailings. Additionally, many of your banking and insurance institutions sell your information to related companies.

Can I reduce the number of unsolicited credit and insurance offers I get?

If you decide that you don’t want to receive pre-screened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: You can opt out of receiving them for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently.

To opt out for five years: Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit The phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies.

To opt out permanently: You may begin the permanent Opt-Out process online at To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.

Sample Opt Out Letters: To let your bank know that you don’t want your information shared:,/a>

Credit Card Direct Mail Opt Out Removal Service:

Your credit history is available to credit card companies for marketing offers. To reduce these junk mail credit-related offers, call the federal Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) opt-out request line. They will opt you out with the four major credit reporting companies permanently, or you can request it for just two years. To obtain more information about this service you should read the corresponding page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website listed below. This service allows you to opt out for two years or permanently.

Many credit card companies compile lists of cardholders for sales promotions based on purchase patterns. California Civil Code sec. 1748.12 requires all credit card companies to provide notice to cardholders prior to disclosing personal information to marketers. Cardholders may prevent the release of this information by filling out a preprinted form or calling a toll-free number, often found on the card itself. Other states either have no law or different laws, but most companies will honor your request not to sell or share your contact information with other companies if you contact them.

Other Sources of Junk Mail

Almost every magazine subscription company sells its subscriber information to whoever will pay for it. In order to stop them from selling your information you will need to notify each of the magazine companies you subscribe to and notify them you would like to “opt-out” of their subscriber list. To opt-out of these lists, on each magazine, look at the bottom of the masthead page under their contact info. They will usually have this information in tiny print in the last few paragraphs of the masthead. Some times the information will be in a section called “subscriber address changes.”

Keep your phone number off solicitation lists:

The easiest was is to call the Federal Trade Commissions Do-Not-Call List phone line. You can register online or via telephone.

National Do Not Call Registry


Junk Fax Information

The following is the Federal Trade Commissions web site that provides information regarding how to stop or make a complaint about junk faxes.

FTC Unwanted Faxes Information Web Site

a few more sites to read

Data compilers and mailing list companies

Acxiom, a large data compiler that sells consumer data to marketers. They participate in DMA’s MPS. To request an opt-out form, leave a message on its Consumer Advocate Hotline at (877) 774-2094, or send an e-mail message to

Donnelley Marketing

(888) 633-4402

Equifax (formerly Polk)

(800) 873-7655

Experian Marketing Solutions

(888) 246-2804


(888) 5OPTOUT (888-567-8688)

Obtain Your Social Security Report:

To obtain your free Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement you can call the Social Security Administration and obtain it. The phone number below is a voice prompt service that will order you a SSA 7004 form. This form will depict how much money has been placed in your account, your estimates of Social Security benefits, disability benefits, death benefits, and should indicate any unauthorized use of your social security number. If your real earnings do not match, you should call the social security administration (800) 772-1213, and speak with an operator.

Information about Requesting a Social Security Statement

Check Your Medical History Insurance Industry Database :

If you would like to see you medial insurance information file, a separate organization keeps this information. You can obtain one report each year for free. For more information, see their web site.

Medical Information Bureau (MIB)

(866) 692-6901

Employment History Request

To request a copy of your employment history report, call 1-866-312-8075.

Tenant History Request

To request a copy of your tenant history report, call 1-877-448-5732.

Additional Reports

  • A-Plus Report (800) 627-3487
  • CLUE – ChoicePoint (866) 312-8076
  • Medical Info Bureau (866) 692-6901
  • ChexSystems (800) 428-9623

Opt Out of National Ad Network

This is an online form that assists in opting out of online ads from your computer.

Free Credit Report or call (877) 322-8228

Network Advertising Opt-Out Online Ads

Web Trends Opt Out of Tracking Cookies

Double Click Opt Out Cookie

California Unclaimed Property Search

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