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Giving up privacy to stop junk mail

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer under Buyer beware, How to blow the whistle Updated: May 17, 2010 - 10:23 AM

Phyllis Bourgeois got so fed up with credit card offers piling up in her mail that she called the bank to stop them. Then the automated system asked for her Social Security number.

“Everybody tells old people, do not give out your Social Security number,” said Bourgeois, 72, who lives in Brooklyn Park. She asked Whistleblower: Do I have to hand over private information to stop the junk mail?

No, though they don’t make it easy. A service run by credit bureaus, available at (888) 567-8688 or, will stop the pre-approved credit offers, but it also asks for your Social Security number and birth date.

I decided to give it a try on Friday. When I called, I supplied my name and address. Then it asked for my Social Security number. I said "no." The computer tried again. I said no again. It gave up after a third time, and then asked for my birthdate. Same routine. Then it said I had successfully removed myself from the list.

At no time did the computer give me the option to withhold my private information, but it didn't stop the process. At least the website says that info is optional.

Who's asking for your private information?


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