In our data-driven world, it feels like you’re being watched with every move you make. If you’re trying to protect your privacy and guard yourself against fraud and identity theft, that feeling is so much more than a nuisance. Thankfully, you can have better control of your information by taking advantage of certain opt-outs. In part one of our two-part series, we discuss three ways you can do so:
- Mail offers
Getting junk mail is not only annoying, it often contains personal information that thieves can exploit for identity theft. If you’re not disposing of this mail carefully, you could be creating a treasure trove of sensitive details right in your trash can. Instead of having to worry about shredding large quantities of junk mail all the time, though, you could reduce the amount you receive.
Through the Direct Marketing Association, which has over 3,000 participating organizations, you can opt out of these direct mail marketing campaigns. To do so, you must fill out a form and choose the categories for which you’d like to no longer receive mail. These include magazine, credit cards and other types of mail offers. While you can’t opt out of all these categories at once and the online form only guarantees your exemption for five years, according to ComputerWorld, if you mail in your form, you can opt out permanently.
- Phone solicitors
Nobody likes getting marketing calls, but luckily it’s fairly simple to reduce the number you receive. This option is especially helpful for seniors who may be more trusting of strange phone calls and mistakenly give away important information. Through the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry, you can eliminate some of these phone calls. However, some solicitations are exempt from the registry, such as those from politicians.
- Behavior-based advertising
While it can be helpful to see an ad for something you may like online, it can feel fairly unsettling when you realize how it got there: behavior tracking.
Two ways to turn off this function is through the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Ad Choices and the Network Advertising Initiative’s Consumer Opt Out. By submitting a request through these agencies, you will be left out of behavior-based advertising from 118 agencies, networks and other DAA members. You can also view how your information is being tracked. Once you submit this request, you will still see ads for websites you’ve already visited, but ad networks won’t be able to suggest more based on your behavior. Essentially, your web activity is no longer being tracked and analyzed.
“The DAA Principles prohibit the collection of browsing behavior once a consumer has opted out, unless the entity requires that information for one of the DAA’s limited exceptions, such as fraud prevention or ad reporting,” Mike Zaneis, senior vice president and general counsel with the trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau, told ComputerWorld.
You can also control behavior-based advertising through Facebook, which tracks your social activity to tailor ads for your homepage. Through the “ad settings” tab, you can now opt out of this kind of marketing, and Facebook will no longer use your behavior to show you advertisements. Since Facebook accounts are often connected to other social media, such as Instagram, these settings will translate to those sites as well, according to Ad Age.
These are just a few steps you can take to help protect your privacy. Taking an active part in protecting your privacy and identity is as important as locking your doors at night. Be sure to also check out part two, where we discuss even more ways to protect your privacy through opt-outs.