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You may be wondering, with all the information hacking and compromised consumer financial records, whether you have any privacy left.

Fortunately, you do have privacy rights. It’s good to know what they are and the various ways you can take control of your information.

There are many federal regulations that give you a say about what arrives in your mailbox and inbox, who calls your home phone and what they can say. There are also privacy protections available to you based on the laws in which state you live.

Here are just a few things you can do to help safeguard your privacy:

1. Opt Out of Credit and Insurance Mailings

Tired of direct mail solicitations for credit and insurance jamming your mailbox?  You have the right to opt out and have a more serene and solicitation-free mailbox.

You can opt-out permanently from these offers or opt out for a five-year period. Learn more about how to opt out of prescreened credit and insurance offers.

To opt out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance for good, you will need to sign a permanent opt-out election form. To opt out for five years, you can call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688).

2. Opt Out of Mailings From National Companies

Want to reduce the junk mail in your mailbox even more? Visit the Direct Marketing Association’s DMA.choice.org, where you can opt out of mailings from many national companies for five years.  You can opt out from mailings from a specific company or by categories such as credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers and other mailings including donation requests, bank offers and retail promotions.

3. Clean Out and Protect Your Inbox

Limit the number of unsolicited emails that you receive with the Direct Marketing Association’s email preference service. Registration is free and your email will be removed from national lists for six years.

4. Protect Your Home Phone

Say goodbye to telemarketers and get your name off telemarketing lists by registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry.  You can register by visiting www.donotcall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222.

5. Privacy Protection When You Have a Debt

Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you also have a rights when it comes to third-party debt collectors.

A debt collector may not:

  •   Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9  p.m., unless you agree to it.
  •   Contact you at work once they’re told you’re not allowed to receive calls there.
  •   Speak about your debt with anyone but you or your attorney.

A third-party debt collector may contact people that know you but only to find out your address, phone number and where you work.

Under the law, you can request that a debt collector stop calling you and cease contact with you altogether by sending them a letter requesting them to do so.

6. Be Proactive About Internet Privacy

Read the privacy policy of websites that you visit. Don’t assume your information is safe. Review the privacy policies carefully before doing business with them. Take a similar stance with offline businesses.

7. Stay On Top of Your Credit

You have a right to see your credit reports to ensure they are accurate. You have free access to your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies once a year, and you can also get a credit snapshot for free once every month through Credit.com.

If you see any inaccuracies, you have a right to dispute the information with the creditor and the credit reporting agencies. Accuracies can have a negative impact on your credit, so it’s important to check your credit regularly for errors, and to resolve any problems as soon as possible.


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