Whether you’re trying to prevent identity theft or are just tired of junk mail and SPAM, there are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of information being sold between companies. Most of these tips I learned from a six month job of tracking down people using computer software, which is called skip-tracing. Before then, I really had no idea how much information was out there for companies to sell and access. It was both amazing and scary when I had the opportunity to look myself up, and it woke me up on wanting to protect my information as much as humanly possible.

Though it’s very hard to eliminate the problem completely, these are things I’ve found helpful:

1)  Contact the three major credit bureau reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and asked to be taken off the “Pre-Appoved” offers list.

It takes a few weeks to take effect, but now I barely get junk mail. Sometimes doing this with just one of them will get the other two notified automatically, but check and make sure.

2)  Have a separate e-mail account that you use when you’re filling out something for companies instead of using your personal e-mail.

You can check it every once in awhile since some retail stores offer specials through e-mails, but it won’t be a hassle when it comes to separating these messages from others that are more important.

3)  Be careful about using “unsubscribe” links with SPAM.

Sometimes it’s just someone mass mailing to see if any valid addresses pop up. Then those get sold.

4)  Be careful with what you share and with who.

I cringe when people fill out a form literally just because it’s there and they think they might win something. If something sounds too odd or unrealistic, don’t put your private information on it. At best, it’s just a marketing ploy and at worst it could be used against you financially.

5)  If it’s a matter of phone calls, ask to be taken off a calling list.

I use a very professional voice and ask for the rep’s name, their manager’s name, full name of the company, etc. Act like you’re writing it down and ask how last names are spelled. Even if you’re not on the Do Not Call list, this usually will get them to back off on trying to sell you something.

Additional Tips:

  • If all of these steps seem like a bit of a hassle, keep in mind how much time you’ll save long-term from having to clear out your e-mail inbox and filter through your mail. It does add up.
  • Cussing out and hanging up on the person who’s calling you is not very effective because they really don’t have any power. You don’t even have to pay attention to what they’re saying, but hang on long enough to get a manager to take you off the call list.