There may be few things more annoying than junk mail, spam and unsolicited calls and text messages.
Not only are these unwanted communications an annoyance, but they can potentially lead to identity theft. While it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate junk mail, spam text messages and unwanted phone calls, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) recommends taking the following steps to get your inbox and smartphone under control.
Unwanted mail shouldn’t cost you your identity. Pre-approved credit card offers are an easy target for identity thieves who can steal incoming mail and use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. Stopping these pre-screened credit offers can help reduce the chances of identity theft. U.S. consumers can “opt-out” of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit: optoutprescreen.com. This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Stop unwanted direct mail solicitations. To stop most mailings, U.S. consumers can go to dmachoice.org and opt out of mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association. DMA regularly updates its list, but it may take up to six months before solicitations from all DMA members stop.
Has your evening been interrupted by telemarketers? If so, you’re not alone. The U.S. government’s National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit donotcall.gov , or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number.
Are you receiving spam text messages? First and foremost, don’t respond. Responding to the text message only confirms your number is in service and opens the door for still more unwanted messages. If your number is already on the Do Not Call Registry and you’re still receiving messages and phone calls, file a complaint with the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints and consider PrivacyStar www.privacystar.com/app-features. BBB National Partners AT&T and Verizon have partnered with PrivacyStar to give you back control of your smartphone. This smartphone app, available in the U.S. for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone, lets you block unwanted numbers, look up unknown numbers, and file a complaint with the FCC. Some charges, however, do apply.
For more tips, visit bbb.org.