Privacy issues; I need your help

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    For my fellow US citizens: Have you noticed an odd increase in junk mail that you receive, with your name (not just addressed to "occupant"), sometimes arriving in little waves? Seems like every time I do business with a company, in which I have to give them a mailing address, they sell my information to other companies and "direct mail clearinghouses." If you care about your privacy, please join me in demanding that Congress take some action. Find out who your congressional representative is, and strongly urge him/her to initiate legislation to make it a crime to sell, lend, rent, or otherwise provide ANY customer information to any other company, organization, agency, or individual.

    As an example, I have a fair supply of equestrian gear, and it was getting a little out of hand. I looked at some tack supply companies for cases to hold crops and lunge whips, then had a brilliant idea: $35 for a rifle case which is more secure and protects better, from a sporting goods company, or $65 for a similar device from a tack company but of lesser quality. After I ordered the rifle cases, I was inundated with junk mail from NRA and a couple of other similar organizations, plus a couple of ones that cater to terrorists, survivalists, and anarchists. Now I'm fairly certain that I have been put on airline "watchlists."

    Some of these companies do not offer an "opt-out" option, others hide it so deeply in the fine print that you can never find it. That's a little backward. Any company doing business in the USA should be bound to keep your personal infomation secure, and should have your express written consent to share it. Keep in mind that every time you use a credit card or a check, every magazine subscription, every mail-order or internet order... anyone who has access to your name and address and/or phone number is willing to sell it... even government agencies, such as the DMV (although they claim to maintain your privacy, they DO have loopholes in their privacy statement, trust me!)

    P. S. I do know about the DMA preference thing that you have to mail to the Direct Marketing Association, but that is not the protection I am looking for. I think the problem needs to be stopped at the source. Trafficking in personal information should be a greater crime than trafficking in drugs, IMHO.
     
  2. D_Barbi_Queue

    D_Barbi_Queue Account Disabled

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    Yes, it sucks!! I avidly use the DMA preference thing everytime we move somewhere. It helps to cut back on A LOT of the crap, but I'm still not happy that info is so easily tossed from one company to another.
     
  3. RideRocket

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    I've found mortgage and titling companies to be the worst. When it comes to signing their paperwork, I spell out my full name, including my middle name. Normally I don't ever use my middle name, let alone the initial when I sign things. I'm amazed at how much junk mail I've gotten with my full name on it which obviously could have come from only one place.

    It's such a waste of time, money and resources for these companies to do this and I wish they would stop, but I think it's a tough act to sell to Congress.
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    Ah, hell yes, I forgot about this one. And the amazing thing about these guys is, you don't even have to have your name on the mortgage or the title to get on their shitlist - just live in a recently-purchased home. For reasons I won't go into, when my partner and I recently purchased a home, we didn't put my name on the mortgage or title; but I still get the same spam from the same companies that suddenly started sending this crap to him. It may be a tough act to sell to Congress, but that was my whole idea in posting this... tough sell or not, if these guys get inundated by demands for legislation, they will be more likely to consider it. I have also considered printing up forwarding labels with my Congressman's info on it. I also collect the postage-paid envelopes that are so often sent with this spam snail-mail, insert unrelated material (sometimes from competing companies, sometimes coupons out of the junk-mail coupon packages, sometimes pages torn from gay porn mags) and send 'em out. The USPS still gets money for every postage-paid envelope they process, and it spams the companies right back.
     
  5. Irvy

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    Yes, the "spam back" approach is very popular. The companies send out the mail expecting quite a low percentage of return, and generally consider that they'll make some money off whoever does return, so the postage fee consideration is minimal. If everyone started returning the envelopes, their postage bill would greatly increase, and may cause them to rethink their approach.
     
  6. madame_zora

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    DC, that is completely amazing! I'm going to start looking forward to my junk mail, I do need new hobbies. Now, what gay porn mags am I willing to sacrifice?

    If you change banks and credit cards frequently, it makes it harder to be found. It wreaks havoc on your credit, so it really depends on what your priorities are. I hate this information spreading like a plague. With the Patriot Act, any notion of privacy protection went out the window. The only way to get around it is to avoid the whole mess, and that's not easy to do.
     
  7. DC_DEEP

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    Well, the return envelope thing is actually a bit of work, but I think it's worth it. Here in the DC area, we have a publication called "The Washington Blade," a weekly gay newspaper... in the back, there's a section with ads for "escorts," with nearly-but-not-quite naked photos... I sent a portion of that one to the NRA (which, ironically, is headquartered near where I live...) But I will keep beating this one drum: WRITE!!!! OFTEN!!!! Let the boys on the Hill know that you are watching them. Let them know that the "Patriot Act" is not acceptable in its present form. Let them know that you are tired of your personal information being a commodity. Dammit, if someone is going to make money on my personal info, I want it to be me! Zora, I love you!
     
  8. brainzz_n_dong

    brainzz_n_dong New Member

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    My uncle works for the Post Office and I can tell you they are probably one of the worst offenders out there when it comes to selling your soul to the marketing devils. Any time you move and file a change of address, you get added to a listing and get sold to anyone willing to pony up the dough to the USPS to buy it (hint: everyone in the mkting world).

    I think he has said that the way to avoid this is to file a temporary change of address listing with the post office, work yourself on getting all of your bills, magazines, whatevers, changed yourself and then let the temporary change expire. He's said before that gets around being sold out, but who knows, maybe they've changed that and not told anyone.
     
  9. DC_DEEP

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    Excellent point, b&d. But it illustrates the point that any entity out there who gets your name & address is generally assumed to be selling it. All the more reason for us, as citizens, to demand federal legislation.
     
  10. BuddyBoy

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    My little household tip - every time I subscribe to a magazine or order from someplace new, I change my middle initial. C for Cargo Magazine, G for National Geographic, E for the Economist, etc. Now whenever I get junk mail, I know who the heck sold my address.
     
  11. Freddie53

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    Yes, it sucks but the chances of a bill passing in this Congress are about as good as George Bush pulling out of Iraq and Dick Chenny becoming an nonest man. Not going ot happen.

    Here is why:

    1. The big companies lobby and lobby and lobby. There is money to be made on those lists. Sell them bastards.

    2. NRA, the religous right whicih is not religious and certainly not right, will lobby the common people that they can't invite other children to join the Boys Scouts, won't be able to invite people to church etc.

    None of that has anything to do with selling people's names. I would settle for a biill that would just outlaw the mass selling of names. That isn't going to happen either.

    i agree though we need to put as much pressure on the Congress as we can. In time we might get some sort of protection. We could start by stopping oru federal agencies from selling our names, especially the post office. That is just horrible for the postal service to be selling names and addresses.
     
  12. DC_DEEP

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    Just a quick roll-call vote: How many of you, since reading this thread, have actually WRITTEN to your representative about the issue? I have, I'm still waiting for a reply. Especially to those of you who say "it's never going to happen," have you at least tried? Put some real pressure on these guys, put them on the spot. If they say they will sponsor legislation, follow up. If they refuse, ask them why. I'm often accused of being an alarmist, but folks, complacency is the enemy of every citizen who values freedom and privacy.

    I have also used the "different middle initial" strategy. I must say, Amazon.com has not sold my info, or at least not to anyone who has put it to use. I can't say much about any other corporation or agency, though.
     
  13. headbang8

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  14. D_Barbi_Queue

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    I just added my cell number to that too b/c they just recently got the green light to start calling cell numbers....bastards!
     
  15. SpeedoGuy

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    If that's really true there's no way the USPS should be selling or distributing address lists to telemarketers. That's the first place where I'd crack down.

    btw, the wave of email spam for loans and viagra I've recently begun receiving on my main addy dwarfs all previous spam inundations.
     
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