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6 Easy opt outs to protect your privacy

Annoyed with pop-up ads, telemarketers and unsolicited mail?  It’s not always easy to control the information coming your way, but here are six easy opt-outs to consider to protect your privacy.  

1.  Get rid of unsolicited phone calls from telemarketers

Head to: National Do Not Call Registry
How it works: Once you get to the registry you’re given two options: 1) to register or 2) to check to see if you’re registered.
You’ll need: Email address & phone number(s).
Estimated time: about 90 seconds.

2. Get rid of pre approved credit card offers

The Federal Trade Commission explanation of pre-screened credit and insurance offers.

Head to: Consumer Credit Reporting Industry
How it works: The online form lets you opt out for five years.
What you’ll need: Your Social Security Number. The reality is that if you’re getting these offers, the credit reporting agencies already have this information.
Estimated time: About 90 seconds.

3. Get rid of (most) catalog/magazine and other mail offers

The opt-out program won’t solve that problem completely, but it will reduce the volume of mail coming in. Plus, this one costs money.

Head to:  Data & Marketing Association (DMA) Choice.  
How it works: First, you register with DMA, providing an e-mail, password, and credit card information, including your zip code. Once you’re logged in, you get steered to a menu with three options. Clicking on the Catalogs/Magazines/Other Mail Offers link opens a daunting alphabetical list of companies. Ignore it. Head instead to Stop All Catalogs and click on Remove My Name. The site will ask you if you’re sure, at which point you click on Yes, Take Me Off and confirm your address.
What you’ll need: A credit card. It costs $2 for the online opt-out and $3 if you mail in the form. There are free opt-outs for caregivers and those with a deceased relative.
Estimated time: Just over 3 minutes.

4. Control your student information

University of Wisconsin is required by state law to provide your contact information to third parties who request it. As a result, you may receive mailings and solicitations from businesses and other entities not affiliated with the university. Many of the third parties offer services and products relevant to college.

Where to go: The UW-Madison Office of the Registrar
How it works: You have three options: FERPA Hold, Third Party Hold, or Registered Student Organizaiton Hold.
What you’ll need: Access to the Student Center in MyUW.
Estimated time: About 90 seconds.

5. Get rid of bank and other financial institution offers

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) explains your rights and opt-out options, but does not provide a universal opt-out for financial institutions.

Where to go: The World Privacy Forum (WPF) site, includes an opt-out list for many large institutions, including Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citibank (1-888-214-0017)
How it works: This information varies widely by financial institution.
What you’ll need: Most likely your account number, Social Security Number and perhaps online login access. If you have multiple accounts, you only need to enter the info for one. Don’t forget about your mortgage and investment accounts.
Estimated time: Depends on the financial institution.

6. Companies that collect your online data

These are known as data brokers. They are clearing-houses for much of the information that’s gathered about you online and used by marketers. Most don’t have easy opt-outs, nor is there much regulation to control what they do. Acxiom, one of the biggest data brokers, is an exception.

Where to go: Acxicom’s opt-out page
How it works: During the process, you are offered a chance to view Acxiom’s About the Data site, which also requires registration.  This site may have a surprising amount of information on you including family status, income and political affiliations. Some of this information is also editable. You can, however, skip this step and go straight to the opt-out form.
What you’ll need: A little advance research. You’ll want to register your name, but also common misspellings, any maiden name, names from previous marriages, addresses dating back as far as you can recall, and all of your e-mail addresses.
Estimated time: About 90 seconds.

7.  Controlling your privacy on social media

Where to go: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, any other social media accounts.
How it works: In addition to keeping your computer and smartphone safe at UW-Madison, it’s also recommended to review your Social Media Privacy settings and adjust them to your desired security settings.
What you’ll need: Installed social media apps, your login information.
Estimated time: About 90 seconds per social network.

 

Sources: Consumer Reports, World Privacy Forum.org