Keep the Information Flowing
Small contributions go a long way. Your donation to Consumer Action, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, can help us cover the cost of research, writing, and translation of our materials. To keep our services free for those who need them. Select an amount to give.
Released: June 10, 2011
Help Desk FAQ
How can I reduce the number of unsolicited phone calls, email messages and pieces of regular mail I receive?
Though you can’t stop all nuisance communications, here are some tips for reducing their numbers:
- Add your home and cell phone numbers, at no charge, to the National Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov or 888-382-1222/866-290-4236 TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register. Find out if your state keeps its own do-not-call list by doing an online search or by contacting your state’s consumer protection agency (http://consumeraction.gov/state.shtml).
- This won’t stop informational calls, calls from non-profit organizations, or calls from anyone with which you already have a business relationship (such as your bank or phone company), but you can reduce those numbers by clearly stating during the call that you want to be added to the caller’s own do-not-call list (non-profits are not required to keep a list). The company must honor your request for five years—after that you would have to make another request. Your request should also stop calls from affiliated entities.
- Paying a small fee to have your phone number unlisted (omitted from the phone directory or directory assistance) will help reduce unwanted calls, too. And consider taking advantage of free or fee services your phone carrier may offer, such as “anonymous call rejection.”
- Opt out of Direct Marketing Association members’ direct mail campaigns by visiting http://www.dmachoice.org and submitting your request, free, online.
- The credit bureaus, which sell your information to companies for marketing purposes, also provide a toll-free number (888-5-OPTOUT) and a website (www.optoutprescreen.com) where you can opt out of prescreened credit and insurance offers for five years.
- If you don’t’ want to receive a particular catalog anymore, call the company's toll-free number and provide the mailing information exactly as it appears on the label, or do the same on the company’s website.
- Keep in mind that your name is added to a mailing list whenever you donate money, fill out a product registration card, enter a contest, or order a product or service. With this in mind, be choosy about who you give your address to.
- Most ISPs (Internet service providers) and email programs include an automatic spam filter, which reduces the number of unwelcome email messages that make it to your inbox. Delete, without opening, any spam that gets through the filter.
- If your email program gives you the option, mark unwanted messages as “junk” to prevent them from reaching you in the future.
- Unsubscribe from legitimate email lists that you no longer want to be on, but do not unsubscribe from spam—doing so only confirms to the spammer that the email address is “live.”
- Consider using an alternate email address—there are many free services—for certain online activities. This will help reduce the number of unwanted messages in your regular email inbox.
- The Federal Trade Commission’s publication Unsolicited Mail, Telemarketing and Email: Where to Go to Just Say No (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt063.shtm) provides additional tips and instructions.