I’ve been sharing a number of tactics that I’ve been using to turn down the noise in my life over the past months as part of the “purging our stuff” step of our five year plan. I’ve experienced a lot of success (and peace!) with the steps that I’ve taken thus far, but I continue to explore ways to keep cranking that volume down. Most recently, I started taking a look at some opt-out options that have helped in eliminating nonsense I don’t need or want in my life.
OPT OUT OF PRESCREENED / PREAPPROVED OFFERS OF CREDIT
I’m pretty sure the majority of people get them – the offer for a new, shiny credit card that says you’ve been preselected, prescreened or preapproved for a special rate, higher credit limit or special, fancy promotion. Our mailbox gets stuffed full of them on a weekly basis. They all end up in the trash and that’s all we really thought about it (other than the insane amount of time, money and trees that are wasted on the entire process). But, behind the scenes, a creditor has requested my information from a consumer reporting company and offered me the “great deal” based on information in my credit report that meets a criteria set by the creditor. When I review my credit reports, I can see exactly which companies or organizations have inquired about information in my credit report to be able to send me these “special” prescreened or preapproved offers.
Our credit reports listed numerous companies that had inquired about our credit – piles of credit card companies and insurance companies. And, we have done business with exactly NONE of the companies that had inquired. In fact, we’re not shopping for new insurance, new credit cards or new consumer offers. While these prescreening inquiries don’t negatively impact credit reports or credit scores, they do contribute to the “noise” in my life by increasing the amount of unsolicited paper that comes into the house. Eliminating all of that junk mail will contribute positively to our current journey of simplifying our lives. The good news? There’s a way to make it stop. And it only takes a few minutes!
In order to stop getting prescreened / preapproved offers of credit, the FTC suggests that you call 888-5OPTOUT (888 567 8688) or go to www.optoutprescreen.com. The phone number and website are operated by the credit reporting companies, and not the FTC, but will give you options to opt out of prescreened offers of credit for five years or PERMANENTLY! Either method, phone or online, will guide you through entering some demographic information and then confirming your opt out selection – five years or permanently. If you choose to opt-out permanently, you should receive a form in the snail mail, which must be completed and returned in order for the permanent opt out to be fully completed.
Of course, opting out of the prescreened offers will only stop solicitations that are generated based on prescreening, which may or may not be all the solicitations you receive. But, eliminating some is better than receiving them all, right? It’s also important to remember that if you decide to opt out of prescreened offers of credit, you may miss special invitations for products, services or credit cards that are based on your credit score. Since we’re not shopping, this is not important to us, but, it may be to someone else.
NATIONAL DO NO CALL REGISTRY
My phone has been on Do Not Disturb for the past few months, but, eventually, there always comes a point when I must confront and deal with the number of calls I’ve received and voicemails that have been left. 99% of the calls I was receiving were telemarketers selling a variety of products that I had no interest in, wasting minutes of my life that I had no interest in wasting. While the National Do Not Call Registry has not completely eliminated the solicitation calls I’m receiving, it appears as though it’s helping to curb at least some of the calls. And receiving fewer calls about purchasing shit I don’t need or want is better than receiving a BUNCH of calls.
The National Do Not Call Registry is free and easy to get registered for. A quick phone call to 1 888 382 1222 or a visit to www.donotcall.gov is all it takes to get on the registry. The registry works for both landlines and cell phones and once you’re registered, the registration remains in effect until the number is disconnected and reassigned or until you choose to remove the number from the registry. The registry promises that you will get “fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number.” I didn’t mark it on a calendar or put together a graph to track my progress, but, it seems to be helping.
UNSUBSCRIBING FROM E-MAIL DISTRIBUTIONS
Do you practice Inbox Zero, or aspire to Inbox Zero? Are the overwhelming amount of commercial e-mails stalling your progress? Good news here, too! There’s a way out! The Federal “CAN-SPAM” act requires that a commercial emailer give email recipients an opt-out method to discontinue receiving e-mails from the sender. While the federal e-mail spam law doesn’t work very well to deter most spam, most legitimate companies using e-mail for advertising seem to comply with the regulations and give you an easy way to remove yourself from their e-mail distributions.
Check the very, VERY bottom of those mass e-mails you receive for an “unsubscribe” option. Usually, clicking the link will take you to a very straightforward, no log-in required, way to stop receiving the e-mails. Since nearly everything is automated these days, it doesn’t take long at all to get your name off the distribution list and stop getting distributions.
This one goes in waves for me. For weeks, I’ll just delete the mass amounts of commercial e-mails with coupon codes, sales and general nonsense that flood my inbox. But then I remember that I could be saving myself the hassle and just unsubscribing from the distributions altogether. Then I go on a ruthless rampage, scavenging my deleted items folder for everything I can unsubscribe from. Knowing that I can re-subscribe again if I find that I really do miss getting offers from retailers makes it an easy decision to purge.