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Outsmart Scam Artists: Protect Yourself and Your Loved One

Don't fall victim to phony solicitations

  • Get caller ID. Placing phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most telemarketing calls; however, political organizations, charities and companies with whom you have an existing relationship may still call. Caller ID shows who is calling before the call is answered. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers.

  • Visit the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) website to reduce commercial mail. You’ll need to create a DMAchoice account (it’s free), and then you can specify what types of mailings you do and do not wish to receive at your house or the home of your loved one. The DMA will save preferences for three years, and DMA members will add or remove your name from their mailing lists based on those preferences. Just remember: mail from any organization that is not a DMA member will still come through, as well as mail from any company with which you or your loved one has done business (for instance, if you’ve ordered from a particular catalog, you’ll still receive that catalog).

  • Opt out of unsolicited "pre-approved" credit offers. Call 888-567-8688 or visit www.optoutprescreen.com to request that the major credit bureaus not share personal information with creditors and insurance companies for promotional purposes. You can opt out for five years, or you can have your name and your loved one’s name permanently removed from credit bureaus’ lists. You will need to provide Social Security numbers and other personal information, which will be used only to process your request.
  • Protect your information and time online. Don’t give a website any personal details until you’ve checked its privacy policy. Be especially careful about sharing your Social Security number and credit card information. If you must register with a website, consider using a secondary e-mail address — one you use expressly for website registrations. This will cut down on e-mail sent to your primary address. Also, many websites let you opt out of having your information shared with others or used for promotional purposes; if given the choice, opt out. If your loved one is Internet savvy, instruct him to do the same.

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