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Consumer
Protect your mailbox ID this holiday season
NEW YORK (11/20/12)--Year-round, but especially during the holidays when things like national requests and special offers abound, think twice before you give out personal information. In the wrong hands it could lead to identity theft, and at the very least it will jam your mailbox with junk mail (Catalog Choice Nov. 8).

Here's how to sidestep problems:

  • Don't sign up. When you apply for store rewards cards or sweepstakes, you're adding yourself to more junk mail lists.
  • Verify coupon offers. When you get a coupon on a social network, go to the website and make sure it's current. If it requires giving too much personal information, is it really worth the savings?
  • Give anonymously to charity. Go to sites like networkforgood.org, which pass your money to the appropriate charity but keep your personal information confidential.
  • Review privacy policies. Before you do business with companies, review whether and how they'll share your information.
  • Fake your middle name. The first time you do business with a company, use a different middle initial. When you get junk mail using that initial, you'll know who's sharing your personal information.
  • Delete the details. Don't reveal your birth date, e-mail address, employer, or other personal details on social media, where potential fraudsters troll.
  • Opt out. If you get tons of post-holiday junk mail, take yourself off marketers' lists at dmachoice.org. You also can use Catalog Choice, its MailStop Mobile app, or MailStop Browser extension to remove your information from more than 8,000 marketing companies.
 For related information, read "Recognize Online Review Fraud" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.


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