Opt Out of Public Access Databases!

I wrote about this in another blog awhile back about searching good ole Google for top 10 opt outs and wanted to make sure I revisited the article again.  Are you getting pre-approved credit offers randomly in the mail or just sick of people spamming your phone with unwanted calls from telemarketers with their scams?  Well do I have the solution for you and it's well worth the good 30 minutes to hour out of your day that you can spend removing yourself so a total stranger can't get your information.

Top ten opt outs:

1. National Do Not Call Registry

2. Prescreened offers of credit and insurance

3. DMA opt outs

4. Financial institution opt outs

5. CAN SPAM

6. Credit freeze

7. FERPA

8. Data broker opt outs

9. Internet portal opt outs

10. Advertising opt outs, including RapLeaf and NAI

 

1. National Do Not Call Registry

What it does:

The National Do Not Call Registry is a national list of phone numbers that telemarketers are not supposed to call

How to opt out:

  • Opt out by phone: Call 1-888-382-1222
  • Opt out by TTY: 1-866-290-4236
  • Opt out online: https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx
  • To opt out of pre-recorded telemarketing calls from companies who already have a business relationship with you, you should be able to activate a voice or keypress command to opt out. If the pre-recorded telemarketing call is left on a voice mail service or machine, the message should include a toll-free number to call where you can then use an automated system to opt out immediately.

More about the Do Not Call List:

See the FTC info page:
http://www.ftc.gov/donotcall

See the FTC page on prerecorded telemarketing calls:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/12/tsramendments.shtm

 

2. Opt out of prescreened/preapproved offers of credit and insurance (five years or permanently, at your choice)

What it does:

Opting out of prescreened offers will stop you from receiving offers for credit and insurance via prescreening.

How to opt out:

(Note: you will be asked to give your Social Security Number to complete this opt-out.)

More about opting out of pre-screened offers of credit:

See FTC Privacy Choices for your Financial Information:
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0222-privacy-choices-your-personal-financial-information

See FTC Prescreened Offers of Credit and Insurance page:
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0148-prescreened-credit-and-insurance-offers

See FDIC Financial Privacy page:
http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/privacy/faqs/index.html

See Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/7/i-am-tired-of-receiving-credit-card-mailings-what-can-i-do.html

 

3. Direct Marketing Association Opt out Services (DMA opt outs)

What it does:

The DMA is the largest U.S. association of marketers – invoking DMA opt outs can diminish receiving marketing mail and catalogs.

How to opt out:

You can opt out of the DMA lists by visiting the DMA web site. One of the lists requires a $1.00 fee if you mail in the opt out via postal mail.

  • Mail Preference Service, usable by anyone. This service is called EDDM, or every door direct mail opt out, and the US Postal Service and the DMA have worked together to create this service. This opt out reduces mail such as catalogs, etc. It also gets your name off of some prospect mailing lists. Online form: https://www.dmachoice.org/register.php. Opting out is free if you opt out online. You can opt out via postal mail for $1.00.
  • DMA Email List Opt out. This list will get you off of some mailing lists and may help reduce some unwanted commercial email. Online form: https://www.dmachoice.org/index.php#  Good for five years. This list will not act as a total cure for spam.
  • Deceased Do Not Contact List. By signing up for this list, you will remove the names of deceased individuals from marketing lists. Online form:https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/ddnc_form.php.There is no fee for the list, but you will be asked for a credit card number to verify your identity.
  • DMA Do Not Contact Service for Caregivers: For those seeking to remove the names of individuals in their care from commercial marketing lists. Online form:https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/dncc.php

4. Bank/Financial Institutions opt out (This section applies to banks, credit card companies, brokerage firms, insurance companies, and other financial institutions.)

What it does:

If you opt out, you limit the extent to which a financial institution can provide your personal financial information to non-affiliates.

How to opt out:

You may have received a privacy notice in the mail from your bank or other financial institution. If you missed it, simply ask for a copy of the company’s privacy notice. They are required to have one. The privacy notice may also be posted on the financial institution’s web site. Read the notice closely, and follow the company’s directions for opting out. You can opt out at any time. By law, you are required to opt out in the way the financial institution determines you should, whether by letter or phone or online. We have not listed all financial institutions here, just some of the largest. Any financial institution you do business with should be able to readily point you to this opt out.

  • Citibank: Opt out by phone: 1-888-214-0017.  The Citi phone menu will prompt you through your choices.  To see the privacy notice, go to https://online.citibank.com/US/JRS/portal/template.do?ID=Privacy and click on Citi bank consumer privacy notice for more information. Note: Be sure to look for the affiliate opt out. For Citibank, a phone opt out appears to be the most straightforward method.
  • Wells Fargo:  Info at https://www.wellsfargo.com/privacy_security/privacy/individuals Note: Online banking customers may log on to a secure session at wellsfargo.com, and choose “Change Privacy Preferences” under the “Account Services” tab to opt out. Opt out by phone: 1-888-528-8460. Note: you can opt out of affiliate marketing and limit direct marketing.

More about financial institution opt outs:

See FDIC’s Your Rights To Financial Privacy Page, includes information about opt outs:
http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/privacy/yourrights/index.html

See FTC’s Privacy Choices for your Personal Financial Information:
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0222-privacy-choices-your-personal-financial-information

See FDIC’s Privacy Choices page, this page has an excellent section on opt out:
http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/privacy/privacychoices/index.html#yourright

See FDIC’s Financial Privacy Page FAQ:
http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/privacy/faqs/index.html

See Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-finalizes-rule-to-promote-more-effective-privacy-disclosures/

See Privacy Rights Clearinghouse How to Read Opt Out Notices page:
http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs24a-optout.htm.

 

5. Use the CAN-SPAM Opt out

What it does:

The federal CAN-SPAM Act requires that a commercial emailer give each email recipient an opt out method.

How to opt out:

Check to make sure the email is a CAN-SPAM compliant email. Some emails offer opt outs, but the opt outs are fake. How to tell the difference?

  • First, a CAN-SPAM compliant email will be labeled as an advertisement.
  • Second, it will include a valid postal address for the sender.
  • Third, it will include a workable opt out link of some type.

If all three elements are present in the email, then there is at least a chance that the opt out is offered in good faith. You have to use your own judgment about each email. Transactional emails are not required to offer an opt out. For example, if you place an online order with an Internet merchant, the message confirming your order, informing you of the shipping date, etc., need not offer an opt out. But if you get a message a month later announcing a sale, that commercial email should include an opt out.

More information about CAN SPAM:

See the FTC CAN SPAM resource mini-site:
http://www.ftc.gov/spam/

 

6. Credit Freeze (also Security Freeze)

What it does:

A credit freeze (sometimes called a security freeze) lets you stop the disclosure of your credit report by a credit bureau.

The result of a credit freeze should be that neither you nor anyone else can open a new credit account in your name. (A freeze will not stop your existing credit cards from working.) A credit freeze can also prevent insurance companies or employers from obtaining your credit data. That’s why if you are actively seeking new employment or insurance, you may want to think carefully about enacting a credit freeze unless you are currently a victim of identity theft.

How to opt out:

Here are two ways to find out how to opt out for your state:

1. The World Privacy Forum’s Credit Freeze page has a list of states that either have a credit freeze law, or have passed a law. Each state links to the official state information page about how to place a credit freeze, or to another information source for that state. Many of the official state information pages are excellent, and provide tips and sample letters. Even if you are not in a state with a law, as of Nov. 1, 2007, you can still set a security freeze.
http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/credit-freeze

2. Consumer’s Union has an excellent and frequently updated page on all current state freeze laws and requirements, with a link on how to opt out for each state and sample letters.
http://consumersunion.org/research/consumers-unions-guide-to-security-freeze-protection/

More about credit freeze:

See the FTC Credit Freeze page:
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279-extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes

See Consumer’s Union frequently updated page on all current state freeze laws and requirements, with a link on how to opt out for each state and sample letters.
http://consumersunion.org/research/consumers-unions-guide-to-security-freeze-protection/

See the PIRG state freeze page:
http://www.pirg.org/consumer/credit/statelaws.htm Links to the state laws.

See California Office of Privacy Protection. Even if you don’t live in California, this is an excellent page to learn more about how credit freeze works. If you are a California resident, you will find sample letters ready for you to print out.
http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft/facts/freeze-your-credit

7. FERPA opt out (students)

What it does:

The FERPA opt out stops schools from releasing student directory information (Name, home address, date of birth, and other information) without consent, with some limitations.

FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. If you are a K-12 student or a college student, or the parent or guardian of a student under 18, you should know about the FERPA opt out. While some parts of school records may be given out only with written consent, schools still have the right to give out what is called “directory information” without student consent, including potentially giving the information out over the phone.

Directory information includes the student’s name, school and permanent address, school and permanent home telephone number, school mail box address, major, dates of attendance, degree(s) received and dates of conferral, and other personally identifying information. There is some variability; some schools also consider the weight and height of athletes, the school email address, and participation in officially recognized activities to be directory information.

If there is a FERPA opt out form on file for the student, the student can prevent the public disclosure of his or her directory information. Then, only legitimate employers or law enforcement professionals or others with a legitimate interest should be able to access that sensitive directory information. Victims of domestic violence may find filing a FERPA opt out to be crucial to them.

How to opt out:

FERPA opt outs are often done with a FERPA form supplied by the school. Usually school records offices will have FERPA information for you, or will know where to send you to find that information. Colleges and some other schools may post the form online. For students under 18, parents have to sign the FERPA forms. This will limit how students’ home address and other directory information can be released.

If you search the web for “FERPA” plus the name of your school, you may find detailed information about how to file a FERPA opt out for your school available online. FERPA opt outs may also be called “Restriction of Directory Information” at some schools. We have a sample FERPA Opt Out Form available here: Sample FERPA opt out form. The US Department of Education has a good FERPA opt out information sheet available for parents here: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/brochures/parents.html

More about FERPA opt outs:

See the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA site:
http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
You can find more information about FERPA here, and you can find information about filing a complaint if you have opted out of FERPA and you believe the school violated the opt out.

See the World Privacy Forum FERPA tips for parents and students:

https://www.worldprivacyforum.org/2015/01/student-privacy-101-why-directory-information-and-ferpa-is-a-major-edu-privacy-issue/

See WPF’s Student Privacy 101 Series:

https://www.worldprivacyforum.org/category/student-privacy-101-series/

See WPF’s FERPA video, available at this page:

What Parents Need to Know About School Directory Information Sharing

See the World Privacy Forum FERPA tips for jobseekers:
http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/2004/08/consumer-tips-resume-database-information/
Scroll to tip #8.

 

8. Data Broker opt outs

What it does:

Some commercial data brokers allow some categories of consumers to opt out of some limited uses and disclosures of personal information.

Commercial data brokers acquire, purchase, accumulate, and sell information about consumers. Many data brokers have large data files with some information on most Americans. The data brokers have multiple lines of business that use consumer data in different ways. Data brokers offer some very limited opt outs, and not all data brokers offer opt outs. If you are a victim of identity theft, a law enforcement professional, or a victim of domestic violence, the opt outs may be important for you. Opt out policies can be challenging to find on the data broker sites. If these links below are stale, please let us know and we will locate the new links for you.

We have mixed views on data broker opt outs. On the one hand, we think that a consumer who opts out does a good thing by exercising those few options that are available. Each consumer opting out helps to preserve opt outs for all consumers. However, the data broker opt outs are generally quite limited, and it is nearly impossible to tell just what effect an opt out will actually have. When you read the opt out offerings carefully, you will see that they are often qualified. Consumers who are victims of identity thieves, victims of domestic violence, public officials, and others may have the greatest interest in seeking what opt out options are available.

How to opt out:

Note: of the data brokers in this list, Acxiom and Lexis Nexis are the largest. If you are an identity theft victim, a law enforcement professional, or have a strong safety need to opt out of data broker databases, start with these companies first.

  • LexisNexis also permits certain individuals to opt-out of KnowX®, and Accurint®, two very powerful information databases. Public and elected officials, law enforcement officers (some cases) and private individuals who are victims of identity theft or who face a substantial risk of physical harm may opt out. Law enforcement officials will still have access to information in the Accurint databases. To learn more, see  http://www.lexisnexis.com/privacy/for-consumers/opt-out-of-lexisnexis.aspx.We note that this is one of the more challenging data broker opt outs. Here is what Lexis/Nexis says about this particular opt out:”This opt-out policy only applies to personal information that is available through LexisNexis-owned databases. Please note opting-out of our databases will not prevent other companies or public record agencies from collecting or disseminating your personal information.

The bases under which LexisNexis policy allows such an opt-out – in addition to any opt-outs required by law – are the following: Public and elected officials, including law enforcement officers, may request to opt-out in cases where the official is on a high-profile assignment, or under threat of death or serious bodily harm or in cases where opt-out opportunities are required by law.y

Private individuals who are facing a substantial risk of physical harm or who are victims of identity theft may request to opt-out of having personal information about themselves made available through KnowX® and having personal information about themselves made available to subscribers to our Accurint® product (other than disclosures that may be made to our law enforcement subscribers). Individuals who request to opt-out for these reasons may submit their requests online or by mail.”

  • Intelius: To opt out online, go to https://www.intelius.com/optout.php. Intelius directs consumers to attach verification information, and provides step-by-step instructions. Fax a copy of your identification to (425) 974-6194
    Or Mail a copy of your identification to
    Intelius Consumer Affairs
    P.O. Box 4145
    Bellevue, WA 98009-4145
  • Details from Intelius:
    “The quickest and simplest way to have your information removed from our website is to send us a request online. You can also submit an opt-out request via fax or postal mail. Regardless of which method you choose, in order for us to suppress your personal information from appearing on our website, we need to verify your identity. To do this, we need proof of identity, consisting of either:
    a copy of a government-issued ID with any photo or ID number crossed out. Examples: driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID card, state-issued ID card, or employee ID card from a state agency, or
    a notarized Identity Verification Form.
    We will only use this information to process your opt out request.
    If you opt-out online, please be sure to include your email address so that we can notify you both when your request is received and when we’ve completed your opt out. http://www.intelius.com/privacy.php
  • US Search Profile Opt Out:  To opt out online, visit http://www.ussearch.com/privacylock. You will need to find the exact record or records you want suppressed and follow the instruction prompts on the screen. You will also need to have a state-issued ID or driver’s license to prove your identity. US Search does not offer opt outs via phone or email.
  • Mail: US SEARCH
    Privacy Officer
    PO BOX 4145
    Bellevue, WA 98009-4145
  • email address: cservice@USSearch.com or call (877) 340-0211 for assistance. 

More about data broker opt outs:

See WPF’s Data Broker Opt Out List

See the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Info Brokers Opt Out page: http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/infobrokers-optout.htm

 

9. Internet and Social Media Opt Outs

What it does:

Some large online and social media sites allow a variety of opt outs. These opt outs can have varying effects, for example, some opt outs spare you from receiving unwanted email, other opt outs offer you the ability to make posts private. The opt outs vary from simple to complex. We don’t take the space to go into details about each opt out. Here, we point you in the right direction and encourage exploration. The sites listed here offer plentiful options for opting out. 

How to opt out:

We don’t take the space here to go into the details about each opt out. Some of the sites offer complex opt outs which would require a lot of explanation. Here, we point you in the right direction and encourage exploration. The sites listed here offer plentiful options for opting out.  The type of opt-out varies widely by service provider, and we recommend that you spend time familiarizing yourself with the opt outs available at each. The links below will lead you to more information about the opt outs available.

  • Google: Click on Google’s privacy policy link at https://www.google.com/policies/?hl=en-US. From there, click on Google Account Settings to view and explore your opt-out options at the Google Dashboard. The video instructions are here, and are readily available via YouTube.  You will need to have an account to view your Account Settings. You can also click on Account Editor to shape how your Google Profile will appear to others here. Note: If you do not have an account, you can click on Ad Settings to explore your choices for opting out and settings.
  • Twitter: You need to have an account to use the privacy tools. In your Twitter account, click –> Edit Profile –>  Security and Privacy. The most important privacy settings for determining whether a tweet will be made public or not are located in the privacy section. See screen shot belo

 

Screenshot of Twitter privacy settings, (Sept. 26 2013.)

 

  • Facebook: You will need to have a Facebook account to use the privacy tools. In Facebook, go to Account –> privacy settings. In Privacy Settings, you will see a series of options and choices for privacy preferences. These choices change from time to time, and they are complex. Take your time, read carefully, and ask questions. WPF has a series of Facebook Privacy Guides available here.
  • Ebay: After you have signed in to your Ebay account, you can make choices by finding the Preferences link under My Account.
  • Yahoo: Sign in to your Yahoo account and look for the Options Link. Click on that link and then click on YAHOO! Delivers. You can then select or unselect what types of advertising email that you want by checking or unchecking boxes with descriptions. Note: if you don’t uncheck the boxes, all boxes will be automatically selected, so watch this closely.

More about Internet portal opt outs:

We encourage you to read the privacy policies of  web portals. The opt outs can make a difference, and one of the best ways to find out about the opt outs that are available to you is to read the privacy policy for that web site.

 

10. Online Advertising opt outs

Advertising opt outs refer primarily to advertising that is sent to you based on information collected online about you. This kind of advertising is called “targeted” or personalized advertising. Some of this advertising is controversial because it can be based on information consumers did not realize was being collected about them for future use. While there are many potential places to opt out, we have selected two key opt outs, the NAI and DAA. Both are important, and offer “one stop” opt outs for numerous advertisers.

How to opt out:

  • Step one: You must accept third party cookies for this opt out to work. Open your web browser and check the cookie settings to accept all cookies.
  • Step two: Open the following page: http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp. You will see a prominent Consumer Opt Out area that shows you how many opt outs you currently have enabled. You can choose to opt out of all companies by clicking the Choose All Companies button. The NAI opt out is relatively simple and straightforward, and is greatly improved from past versions.
  • Note: After you have opted out, if you remove the opt out cookies from your computer, the opt out must be repeated. We reiterate: this opt out may be helpful and useful, but it also can be challenging.

More about the NAI opt out:

See the NAI Frequently Asked Questions Page: http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/faqs.asp.

See World Privacy Forum cookie page: http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/cookieoptout.html

 

Digital Advertising Alliance Opt Out

What it does:

The DAA opt out offers a centralized system for opting out of ads on mobile and other platforms

How to Opt Out:

Like the NAI opt out, the DAA opt out has a dedicated page: http://www.aboutads.info/choices/. To opt out, visit the opt out page, making sure that your browser is set to accept cookies. The page will test your device and will walk you through the opt out process. A support page offers more information if you have trouble opting out.

This information is not legal advice, and should not be used in lieu of legal advice.