Fighting Spam/Junk Mail/Sales Calls

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Jan 3, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    How to Fight Spam, Junk Mail and Sales Calls
    By Liz Pulliam Weston, MSN Money

    On a fairly ordinary day recently, I received:
    --A prerecorded phone message pitching a mortgage refinancing service.
    --A “live” phone message offering me a debt consolidation loan.
    --Three unsolicited faxes.
    --A few dozen spam e-mails with deceptive subject lines.

    The volume of unwelcome marketing attacks wasn’t remarkable. What is -- or should be -- of note is that all of these communications were illegal.

    Recorded phone messages and junk faxes have long been against the law. Live phone pitches became off-limits shortly after I signed up for the federal Do-Not-Call List, and misleading spam was outlawed by the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which took effect in January 2004. Yet the bombardment continues.

    Junk faxers continue to spew out unwanted, unsolicited ads, even after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1991 law banning them and the Federal Communications Commission slapped one of the most notorious offenders, Fax.com, with a record $5.4 million fine.

    The volume of e-mail spam keeps rising, despite the CAN-SPAM Act.
    Fraudulent e-mails were 4% of the total.

    It’s clear, privacy advocates say, that the federal government needs to kick its enforcement up a notch. But there’s also a lot we as consumers can do both to protect our own privacy and aid regulators in the hunt for scofflaws.

    For each type of incursion into your privacy, I’m offering three levels of response: the “no-brainer,” or basic way to defend yourself; the “next step” for those who want a higher level of protection; and the “warrior stance,” which can help fight these intrusions on a more global scale.

    Telemarketing and Junk Faxes

    The No-Brainer. Sign up for the federal Do-Not-Call List online or by calling (888) 382-1222.

    Despite the violations and complaints, privacy advocates say the federal registry does seem to be dramatically reducing telemarketing calls.

    “From the information we’ve gotten from consumers, they have seen a significant decline in the number of telemarketing calls,” said Jordana Beebe, spokeswoman for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “The FTC was pretty close when they said it would reduce calls by 80% or more.”

    Unsolicited faxes aren’t covered by the do-not-call registry, since they were already banned under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

    The Next Step. There are a host of other ways to block telemarketing and junk faxes.

    Sign up for your state’s do-not-call list. Most states with such lists share their data with the federal registry, said privacy expert Robert Ellis Smith, but your state may have stricter rules about who can and can’t call. Some of the states that don’t share with the federal registry include: Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

    Don’t call toll-free or 900 numbers unless you already have a business relationship with the company. Your phone number can be “harvested” from your call, even if you have Caller ID blocking, and sold for marketing purposes. If you must call, demand to be put on the company’s do-not-call list and insist that your information not be sold.

    Consider your phone choices. Some privacy advocates recommend an unlisted number or Caller ID systems, but Smith, publisher of the Privacy Journal finds those to be an unnecessary expense and hassle. He recommends listing your phone number without your address, to foil most marketers, and having “distinctive ringing” on your phone line so that friends and family trigger one kind of ring, while outsiders trigger another.

    Tell companies you do business with that you don’t want to be contacted. The federal Do-Not-Call List exempts calls from companies when you have a business relationship. But even these companies are required to put you on their do-not-call lists if you ask.

    When you donate, tell charities and nonprofits not to contact you or sell your information. Charities and nonprofits are exempted from the federal do-not-call registry, but they also must maintain an internal do-not-call list.

    Don’t give out your phone or fax number. Seems obvious, but you probably give out your number way more often than necessary. There’s no reason, for example, to include your number when filling out warranty cards, product registrations and magazine subscriptions requests. If required to give your number, demand to be put on the company's do-not-call list.

    If you receive a junk fax with a toll-free opt-out number, use it. Unlike spam e-mails, where opt-out options seem to bring on more spam, junk faxers generally respond by taking your number off their lists, privacy advocates said. If there’s no toll-free number or the number doesn’t work, consider reporting the faxer to the FCC (see below).

    Review the steps below for blocking direct-mail solicitations. There’s lots of overlap between telemarketers, junk faxers and junk mailers.

    The Warrior Stance. If you really want to strike some blows for a telemarketing-free world, consider the following.

    Report do-not-call violators. There’s a complaint form right on the FTC Web site. You also can contact your state’s attorney general. Regulators can’t investigate each and every violation, but they do look for patterns of abuse. Your report can help build their cases. Junk faxers should be reported to the FCC in writing, with a copy of the fax attached. Junkfaxes.org describes which addresses to use and the information to include.

    Sue them. Some anti-telemarketing crusaders make a hobby of suing telemarketers in small claims and other courts. If you’re interested, you can start with Ben Livingston’s site, Zen and the Art of Small Claims. Arizona attorney Richard Keyt offers resources, including a sample demand letter to send to junk faxers. You also can send $10 for a copy of Private Citizen’s booklet, “So you want to sue a telemarketer.”

    Goad your lawmakers. The massive, favorable response to the federal do-not-call law (more than 50 million numbers registered in its first few weeks) drove home the message to politicians that their constituents want to be left alone. Keep up the pressure with letters and e-mails urging them to make sure the law gets enforced.

    Junk Mail

    The No-Brainers. Use the opt-out services for general junk mail and credit card solicitations. These will reduce but not eliminate unwanted mailings.

    Write the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at PO Box 643, Carmel NY 10512, including the name and address of all household members you want deleted from members’ mailing lists. You also can opt out online, but the service costs $5.

    Call (888) 5 OPT OUT, a service maintained by the three major credit reporting companies, to be removed from marketing lists the credit bureaus provide to credit card companies. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number and other identifying information.

    The Next Step. A growing number of companies that collect data are offering opt-out options. Among them:

    Real estate data companies. Two companies that collect and sell data from public tax assessor records are Acxiom, which has an opt-out hotline at (877) 774-2094, and DataQuick, whose opt-out hotline is (877) 970-9171.

    Phone companies. Call yours and demand your number be taken off any marketing lists. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a partial list of opt-out numbers for telephone companies.

    Your doctor. A federal law that took effect in April 2003 requires medical care providers to give you a copy of their privacy policies and to allow you to opt out of any marketing efforts.

    Avoid sweepstakes. Their real purpose is usually to collect a list of names and addresses for marketers.

    Be alert for opt-out choices. Look for boxes you can check on forms, applications and Web sites that let you stay off marketing lists. If you can’t find a box, consider taking your business elsewhere or write a letter telling the business, charity or other organization that you don’t want your information sold or shared.

    Be wary of loyalty cards. They can offer great deals, but often at the expense of your privacy. If you do decide to use them, you can often leave the address and phone number blank.

    Respond to privacy policy notices. Financial institutions are supposed to send you information each year about how they might use your data, and give you a chance to opt out. You should only have to respond once to these annual mailings.

    Widen your net. Any organization to which you belong could sell its mailing list. That includes professional associations, religious groups, nonprofits, museums -- the list goes on and on. When renewing your membership or donating, include a letter demanding that your personal information not be shared or sold. You can threaten to stop attending/donating/doing business with the recipient if it fails to honor your wishes.

    The Warrior Stance. The Do-Not-Call List is, unfortunately, expected to lead to a new surge in junk mail. You can fight the trend in the following ways:

    Subscribe to anti-junk services like the one provided by Private Citizen for $10. These services say they have access to many more junk mailing lists and ways to target and defeat persistent junk mailers.

    Sue them. Many of those crusading against telemarketers and spam are also taking on junk mailers. Check out the links above.

    Goad your lawmakers. Besides being irritating, junk mail takes an environmental toll -- in paper, compact discs, product samples and wrapping that are created and then (more often then not) tossed directly into the trash. If that bothers you, or you’re just irritated by the volume of mail you get, consider contacting your lawmakers about setting up a national Do Not Mail list.

    Spam and Pop-Ups

    The No-Brainer. If you’ve been on the Internet more than about five minutes, you’ve probably read about the basic ways you can cut down on spam: using spam filters, keeping your e-mail address off Web sites and out of chat rooms, not opening or responding to spam.

    The Next Step. Look for “spyware” that’s been secretly installed on your computer. These programs secretly track your movements and lurk on an estimated 9 out of 10 computers. Spyware can spawn legions of pop-up ads, or hijack your browser and force you to visit unwanted Web sites. (The most odious specialize in sticking porn in your face.) Spyware also can collect data about you and send it to companies without your knowledge.

    Activate spyware detectors in your antivirus software. The two major antivirus programs, McAfee and Norton, have spyware detectors in their latest versions.

    Download free spyware detection software. Free programs include Spybot Search and Destroy and Lavasoft Ad-aware.

    The Warrior Stance

    Sue them. Anti-spam crusaders are taking their battles to state and small claims courts. Use the links above as a starting point, or just type “suing spammers” into any search engine.

    Goad your lawmakers. The CAN-SPAM Act overrode some state laws that were seen as tougher and more likely to have an effect. You can urge your congressional representatives to put some teeth in the federal law or at least push for active enforcement of its provisions.
     
  2. waltky
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    waltky Wise ol' monkey Supporting Member

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    Hard drives seized in raids are being analysed for clues to who was behind Rustock...
    :clap2:
    Spammers sought after botnet takedown
    25 March 2011 - The Rustock botnet, which sent up to 30 billion spam messages per day, might have been run by two or three people.
    See also:

    Microsoft aids shutdown of Rustock spam net
    17 March 2011 - Rustock's main business has been to send out offers of cheap pharmaceuticals
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  3. waltky
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    waltky Wise ol' monkey Supporting Member

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    Should be 18% less spam now...
    :clap2:
    Huge spam botnet Grum is taken out by security researchers
    19 July 2012 - The Grum botnet was made up of more than 120,000 infected computers, researchers said
     
  4. waltky
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    waltky Wise ol' monkey Supporting Member

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    Mebbe dat'll put a stop to dem Nigerian spammers...
    :clap2:
    Cybercriminals in developing nations targeted
    20 July 2012 - The ICSPA says it has already started advising Ghana's government how to tackle cybercrime
     
  5. waltky
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    waltky Wise ol' monkey Supporting Member

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    Europol's EC3 goin' after cybercrime...
    :clap2:
    EU police agency opens unit to tackle cybercrime
    Jan 11,`13 -- The European Union's police coordination agency opened a new cybercrime unit Friday to combat online offenses from banking fraud to peddling images of child sex abuse.

     
  6. Politico
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    Politico Gold Member

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    Don't give anyone your private info and you don't get spammed. Works everytime.
     
  7. waltky
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    waltky Wise ol' monkey Supporting Member

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    Dutch spammer nabbed in Spain...
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    Dutchman arrested over huge web attack
    26 April 2013 - Spanish police have arrested a Dutchman suspected of being behind one of the biggest ever web attacks.
     
  8. waltky
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    waltky Wise ol' monkey Supporting Member

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    Oh, please don't throw me into dat briar patch...
    :cuckoo:
    Cyberattack suspect to be sent home to Netherlands
    April 29, 2013 -- A Dutch citizen arrested in Spain on suspicion of launching what authorities have called the biggest cyberattack in Internet history is expected to be handed over to the Netherlands within 10 days, a Spanish court official said Monday.
     

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