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How to stop unwanted junk mail

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
 

It doesn't take much to get it started: Let's say you send $5 to a charitable organization. If you read the fine print on a lot of these solicitations, they do say they're going to share your information with counterparts or with other agencies they work with. And it starts multiplying. Similarly, if you participate in a sweepstakes, a lot of that information will get you onto what a “mooch list” is traded. And consumer product sales, catalogues or solicitations can also multiply. Here are tips to slow down junk mail:

• Avoid contests that require you to fill out an entry form. These are primarily used to get names and addresses to sell as leads for other companies or charities.

• Whenever you sign up for a new service, subscribe to a magazine, fill out warranty information, participate in discount programs, order over the telephone, by mail or the Internet or make a donation, write on the invoice asking the receiver not to sell or share your name and address.

• Complete “opt out” requests with your insurance company, bank and credit cards that you deal with regularly. Information is on your statements. If not, contact them and ask them not to share your name and address.

• To stop credit and insurance offers based on your credit reports, you can “opt out” by going online to the site www.optoutprescreen.com or calling 888-567-8688. This is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry Website to accept and process those pre-approved credit card offers. You can request your name to be removed for five years or permanently. (Note: You do need to share your Social Security number so the credit bureaus can block the correct credit report.)

• Register with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), which represents nearly 3,600 organizations, including most of the leaders in the direct marketing community. This gives you the power to manage offers such as credit, catalogs and magazines. To stop unwanted mail for three years, you can visit www.dmachoice.org and opt-out for free or you can mail in your request by sending in a check (no cash) for $1 payable to DMA to the Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, N.Y., 10512.

To remove the names of deceased individuals from marketing lists, there is also a Deceased Do Not Contact List and you can sign up at that same website.

• Avoid sending in product warranty cards. If you do, contact the National Demographics & Lifestyles in writing to be removed from lists generated from product warranty cards at: National Demographics, List Order Dept., 1621 18th St. No. 300, Denver, CO 80202.

• It might take up to 12 weeks before you see a reduction in junk mail. If you still find items coming, contact the company directly and ask them to add you to their do not contact list.

— Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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