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The following information has been provided to the PRIVACY Forum by the
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC).  In some cases, the items have been
reformatted locally for online presentation.  Index descriptions for
FTP/listserv/gopher access have been chosen locally.  Other than such
formatting and index descriptions, all information below in this file is the
responsibility of the PRC, and any questions regarding that information
should be directed to the PRC at:

Phone:  619-298-3396 (800-773-7748 Calif. only)
Fax:    619-260-4753
E-mail: [email protected]


Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Fact Sheet #4

          Junk Mail: How Did They All Get My Address?

While  your  mother  may have told you that a  person's  mail  is
private, in this day of computerized mailing lists, your name and
address   certainly  aren't.  Chances  are,   your   mailbox   is
overflowing with catalogs, sale notices, prize offers  and  other
"deals" which you never requested and may not want.

If  you  do not want others to have access to your name,  address
and  buying habits, or if you are tired of throwing away unwanted
mail,  there  are several steps you can take to get  off  mailing
lists.  You must be persistent, and you won't get rid of it  all.
But  you  can  substantially reduce the amount of junk  mail  you

How  did I get on these lists in the first place? How can  I  get

Every time you provide your name and address to receive a product
or  service, there's a good chance you are being added to one  or
more  mailing  lists. When you buy a car, have  a  baby,  make  a
purchase  from a catalog, give money to a charity or fill  out  a
product registration card, your name is likely to be entered into
a computer data base.

Public  records.  When  you make virtually  any  major  lifestyle
change,  a  government agency records the event. Many such  files
are  open  to the public, including: birth certificates, marriage
licenses,  home  sales records, and the Post Office's  change  of
address  form. Public records are one way companies selling  baby
items,  for example, can mail advertisements to new parents  just
days after the birth of a child.

      Mail-reduction  tips.  You usually cannot  have  government
records about you kept confidential. Therefore, contact companies
individually  when they put you on a mailing list  compiled  from
public records. For example, if you buy a house and receive  home
improve-ment and insurance solicitations you do not want, you can
do three things: (1) Write to the company and ask to be taken off
its   mailing  list.  (2)  Envelopes  with  "Address   Correction
Requested"  or  "Return  Postage  Guaranteed"  can  be   returned
unopened  by writing "Refused--Return to Sender" on the envelope.
The company will have to pay the return postage. (3) If there  is
a postage-paid return envelope, put all of the information in the
return  envelope  with a note that you wish  to  have  your  name
removed from the mailing list.

The  Post  Office makes its change of address file  available  to
major  mailing  list companies. To avoid receiving  solicitations
aimed at "new movers," contact friends, family and companies with
whom  you  do  business directly and do not  fill  out  the  Post
Office's change of address form.
Mail order, credit cards and magazines. If you are on the mailing
list  of one mail order company, you are likely to be on the list
of  several. Most mail order firms "rent" their mailing  list  to
other  businesses.  Many credit card companies  also  rent  their
mailing lists, as do magazines. Therefore, if you subscribe to  a
cooking  magazine,  you may find yourself  receiving  mail  order
catalogs for kitchen supplies and food specialties.

       Mail-reduction   tips.  Write  to  the  Direct   Marketing
Association's  (DMA)  Mail Preference  Service,  P.O.  Box  9008,
Farmingdale,  NY 11735. Tell the DMA you do not want  to  receive
catalogs  and other promotional material through the  mail.  They
will  put  you into the "delete" file which is sent to the  DMA's
member organizations four times a year.

Companies  that  do  not  participate  in  the  Direct  Marketing
Association  program  must  be  contacted  directly.  Notify  the
company's customer service department and request that your  name
and  address  not  be  provided to other companies.  Be  sure  to
contact  magazines to which you subscribe as well  as  charities,
nonprofit  organizations and community groups to which  you  have
either donated money or joined.

Many  credit card companies will delete your name from the  lists
they rent and sometimes even from the list they use to send their
own   promotional  materials  to  their  customers.  (They  will,
however,  continue to send you your bill.) Write to the  customer
service  department  and request your name be  removed  from  the
lists they rent to others and from their "in-house" mailing list.

Credit  bureaus.  Companies with whom  you  do  business  provide
information  to credit bureaus on how much you owe, how  promptly
you  pay  your bills and the types of purchases you  make.  While
many  credit  bureaus rent lists, they do not  disclose  specific
information such as what you owe or to whom. Rather, they compile
lists  based on consumer characteristics. An example would  be  a
list  of  people who have an income of over $30,000 a  year,  use
credit  cards  and pay their bills on time. If you  fall  into  a
category such as this, you may receive "pre-approved" credit card
offers in the mail.

      Mail-reduction tips. The three major credit reporting firms
are:  Equifax, Trans Union and TRW. Write to each and ask  to  be
removed from their marketing mailing lists.

     o    Equifax  Options,  Equifax Marketing Decision  Systems,
          Inc., P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123.
     o    Trans  Union - 555 West Adams St., 8th Floor,  Chicago,
          IL 60661.
     o    TRW,  Target  Marketing Services Division,  Attn:  Mail
          Preference Service,
          901 N. International Parkway, Suite 191, Richardson, TX

Registration   cards.   Be  aware  that  warranty   or   "product
registration" cards have less to do with warranties than they  do
with  mailing  lists. These cards may ask you  what  hobbies  you
have,  how  many people are in your household and your  household
income--information  the company obviously does  not  require  to
guarantee the product.

Such  registration cards are generally not mailed to the  company
that  manufactured the product, but to a post office box  of  the
National Demographics and Lifestyles Company in Denver, Colorado.
This company compiles buyer profiles and sells the information to
other companies for marketing purposes.

      Mail-reduction tips. When you buy a product, don't fill out
the product registration card. In most cases your receipt ensures
that you are covered by the warranty if the product is defective.
If you decide to send the registration card, include only minimal
information--name, address, date of purchase and  product  serial
number.  (For some products you may want the company  to  have  a
record of your purchase in case there is a safety recall.)

Also, write to National Demographics and Lifestyles and ask  them
to delete you from their mailing lists: National Demographics and
Lifestyles,  List Order Department, 1621 18th Street,  Suite  300
Denver, Colorado 80202.

Price  scanners. A new way of compiling mailing lists  and  buyer
profiles is through price scanners. Scanners help businesses keep
track  of  their  inventory and speed service  at  the  check-out
counter.  They  can  also  be used to  link  your  name  to  your
purchases, especially if you are using the store's "buyers  club"

When  this card is "swiped" through the card reader at the check-
out  stand, your name and address, stored in the card's  magnetic
strip,  are matched against a record of the scanned items. Stores
generally  offer  product discounts as an incentive  to  use  the

The  store  may  use this information to mail coupons  and  other
special  offers  to  you and share the information  with  product
manufacturers. So, for example, if you buy one type  of  soda  at
the  grocery  store you might receive coupons from a  rival  soft
drink company to induce you to switch brands.

     Mail-reduction tips. If you do not want information compiled
about  your  personal  buying habits through  the  use  of  price
scanners, don't participate in the store's "buyers club." You may
also  want  to  pay cash at businesses which use scanners,  since
technology  may allow the company to store your name and  address
if you pay by check or credit card.

Phone  books.  If  you  are listed in  the  White  Pages  of  the
telephone book, your name, address and phone number are, for  all
practical purposes, public record. Mailing list companies collect
this  information  and  sell  it  to  mail  order  companies  and
marketing  firms.  In  addition to the  White  Pages,  the  phone
company  and  other  companies compile directories  organized  by
address  and phone number rather than by name. If you are  listed
in  the White Pages, you are also in one or more of these "street
address directories."

     Mail-reduction tips. If you are concerned about keeping your
name and address private, consider having an unlisted number.  Or
request  that the local phone company publish just your name  and
phone  number and omit your address. In addition, ask  the  phone
company   to  remove  your  listing  from  its  "street   address
directory."  Also,  write  to the major directory  companies  and
request that your listing be removed:

     o    Haines  & Co., Criss-Cross Directory, 2382 East  Walnut
          Ave., Fullerton,
          CA 92631.
     o    R.  L. Polk & Co., List Compilation & Development, 6400
          Monroe Blvd., Taylor, MI 48180-1814.
     o    Rueben  H.  Donnelley Corp., 287 Bowman Ave., Purchase,
          NY 10577.

Mailing  list  companies. There are a number of  companies  which
purchase   and  collect  information  from  government   records,
telephone   books,  association  membership  rosters  and   other
sources.  They compile mailing lists and sell them for  marketing

      Mail-reduction tips. To be removed from the  lists  of  the
major companies that sell mailing lists, write to these firms:

     o    R.L.  Polk  &  Company, List Compilation & Development,
          6400 Monroe Blvd., Taylor, MI 48180-1814.
     o    Donnelley  Marketing, Inc., Data Base Operations,  1235
          "N" Ave., Nevada, IA 50201-1419.
     o    Metromail  Corp.,  List  Maintenance,  901  West  Bond,
          Lincoln, NE 68521.
     o    Database   America,  Comp.  Dept.,  100  Paragon   Dr.,
          Montvale, NJ 07645-0419.
     o    Dunn  &  Bradstreet,  Customer Svc.,  899  Eaton  Ave.,
          Bethleham, PA 18025.

What if I only want to stop part of my junk mail?

Junk mail is only junk when you don't want to receive it. You may
want to be on some mailing lists.

If  you  want  to receive some of this mail, do not  contact  the
Direct  Marketing Association and ask to be taken off all mailing
lists.  Rather, notify companies individually and tell  them  you
want your name removed from their lists. Also, tell the companies
you  do  business with to keep your name and address  private.  A
growing  number of businesses which rent their mailing lists  are
including statements in their catalogs to let you know  you  have
this option.

For more information

Join  the Stop Junk Mail Association. The SJMA provides a mailing
list  name deletion service for its members and lobbies on behalf
of  postal privacy rights. For more information on SJMA services,
write  to:  3020 Bridgeway #150, Sausalito, CA 94965. (800)  827-

Order the informative 16-page booklet "Stop Junk Mail Forever" by
sending  $2.00 to Good Advice Press, P.O. Box 78, Elizaville,  NY

The  Direct  Marketing Association has free brochures  on  direct
marketing  practices. Contact the DMA at 11 West  42nd  St.,  New
York, NY 10036-8096.

For  more  information  on  junk mail and  other  privacy-related
issues,  contact  the  Privacy Rights  Clearinghouse  hotline  at

     NOTE:  The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse does not  rent,
     sell   or  trade  its  mailing  list  with  any   other
     organization or company. Your name and address are kept
     completely confidential.

......November 1992
......Revised Feb. 1993