2004-08-06 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

Audrey Pheffer
Audrey Pheffer Do these scenarios sound familiar?

Do you check your mailbox and find it brimming with credit card offers and other junk mail? Do you answer your cellular phone or house phone only to be greeted by yet another telemarketer? If these scenarios sound all too familiar, you are not alone, but luckily there are many ways to prevent unsolicited advertisements.

Fortunately, reducing the amount of unsolicited mail you receive can be both quick and easy, and there are several options available. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the best way to rid yourself of these unwanted mail advertisements is to register for the Mail Preference Service, which can be done one of three ways: Mail a post card or letter to the DMA with your request.

This option is free of charge, but generally requires a month to process. Be sure to include your name, home address and signature in your letter to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643: Register at the DMA’s Consumer Assistance Website at www.dmaconsumers.org.

This option requires a $5 fee, but offers the fastest results; Complete and print the form offered at the DMA’s website and mail it to the address listed.

This option is free of charge, and offers a somewhat faster processing time than the first option.

Registering with DMA reduces unwanted mail, but does not entirely prevent it. Only DMA members must refrain from unsolicited mailings. You may continue to receive mailings addressed to “occupant/resident,” as well as mailings from political candidates, local businesses, professional associations, and companies that do not use DMA’s Mail Preference Service File.

Names remain on file for only five years, after which you must re-register.

As for pesky telemarketers, their calls can be easily reduced and possibly eliminated altogether. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cites a recent Harris poll showing that of those who had registered a phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry, ninety two percent reported receiving fewer calls, and seventy eight percent reported receiving “far fewer calls” or, better yet none at all.

Registering on the National Do Not Call Registry is quick and easy. You can either visit its website, www.donotcall.gov, and register, or you can call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you wish to register.

Both options are free of charge. If you chose to register your phone number online, you will receive an e-mail from the National Do Not Call Registry to confirm your registration. If you do not reply to this e-mail within seventy two hours, your registration will not be complete, and unsolicited calls will continue.

You may receive telemarketing calls for the first three months your number is registered, but afterwards, telemarketers may no longer call. If you do receive a call after three months, you may file a complaint with the FTC by visiting www.donotcall.gov, or calling 1-888-382-1222. You will need the date of the call and either the name or telephone number of the company that called you. You may continue to receive calls from companies with which you do business, charities, and political candidates among others.

For more information visit the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov, or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. You may also visit the Direct Marketing Association at www.dmaconsumers.org.

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