RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you're sick of getting flooded with junk mail, you have options. You can opt out from receiving some of the offers. In some cases, all you have to do is read the fine print.
Maybe you've gotten a piece of mail and thought, more junk and just tossed it. Professor James Gibson, with the University of Richmond Law School says not so fast.
"I think most people probably chunk them but they shouldn't, it is really important if you want to control the destiny of your financial information," he said.
Some of what you consider junk, could actually be privacy notices from your credit card company. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, card companies have to send them once a year. The goal is to inform the consumer what information is being collected and shared. Importantly, it gives you the option to opt out.
"It will permanently stop the flow of information from your bank to those third parties. If the information is already out there, you are probably going to keep getting it. Once that cat is out the bag, it is really hard to put it back," explained Gibson.
Professor Gibson says there is no one clear way to determine how you get all the junk mail but one thing is clear, most of the time, it all starts with you and the information you give up.
"You ever filled out one of those product registration cards and they ask for your hobbies and your income and your kids ages and you just write that stuff down," he said.
Limiting the information the credit card company shares is one way of reducing junk mail. But there are other ways. You can opt out of receiving pre-screened credit and insurance offers for five years by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT or visit opt out pre-screen.com. The Federal Trade Commission says another way to reduce the clutter in your mail box, register with Direct Marketers Association. It lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years.
"The general law in the absence of action by the consumer, is very open and allows a lot of infringement on your privacy and lot of sharing of your information. So unless you affirmatively act to restrict it, your privacy is worthy very little," added Gibson.
Keep in mind, if you plan on using some of these opt out resources -- in order to get privacy, you have to give up a little. Many require you to submit personal information like name, phone number and social security number. The Federal Trade Commission says it all will be confidential.
Here are some important links: