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Top Ten Opt Outs


As privacy experts, we are frequently asked about “opting out,” and which opt outs we think are the most important. This list is a distillation of ideas for opting out that the World Privacy Forum has developed over the years from responding to those questions. The list below does not contain all opt outs that are available. Rather, it contains the opt outs that we believe are the most important and will be the most useful to the most consumers.

Many people have told us that they think opting out is confusing. We agree. Opting out can range from the not-too-difficult (the FTC’s Do Not Call list is a fairly simple opt out) to the challenging (the National Advertising Initiative opt out can be tricky). Our hope is that this list will clarify which opt out does what, and how to go about opting out.

In this list, some opt outs can be done by phone, some have to be sent in a letter via postal mail, and some can be accomplished online. Some opt outs last forever, some have time limits, and others can be changed at will. If an opt out is on this list, it is because we thought it might be important enough to be worth whatever annoyance it may pose.

Not every opt out is right for everyone, and not everyone will necessarily want to opt out. It is a personal choice. Take a look at the list below, and see if any of the opt outs appeal to you, or might make a difference to you in some way. And if you know of an opt out that has been important to you that we didn’t include here, please post your personal “top opt outs.” We’ll consider them for the next revision of this list.

1. National Do Not Call Registry
2. Prescreened offers of credit and insurance
3. DMA opt outs

  • Mail Preference Service, usable by anyone. This list reduces mail such as catalogs, etc. It also gets your name off of some prospect mailing lists. https://www.dmaconsumers.org/onlineform.php Requires a $1.00 fee payable by credit card. You can register by mail, but you have to send a $1.00 check.
  • Email List Opt out. This list will get you off of some mailing lists and may help reduce some unwanted commercial email. http://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumers/optoutform_emps.shtml. Good for five years. This list will not act as a total cure for spam.
  • Deceased Do Not Contact List. By signing up for this list, you will remove the names of deceased individuals from marketing lists. https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/ddnc.php Requires a $1.00 fee payable by credit card.
  • DMA Do Not Contact Service for Caregivers: For those seeking to remove the names of individuals in their care from commercial marketing lists. https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/dncc.php

4. Financial institution opt outs

5. CAN SPAM
6. Credit freeze
7. FERPA
8. Data broker opt outs
9. Internet portal opt outs

  • Ebay: After you have signed in to your Ebay account, you can make choices by finding the Preferences link under My Account.
  • MSN:At the MSN.com site, click on the MSN privacy link at the bottom of the main screen. Then look for Communications Preferences. You will be offered a series of links that allow you to exercise choice about the types of communications that you will receive.
  • Yahoo:Sign in to your Yahoo account and look for the Options Link. Click on that link and then click on YAHOO! Delivers. You can then select or unselect what types of advertising email that you want by checking or unchecking boxes with descriptions. Note: if you don’t uncheck the boxes, all boxes will be automatically selected, so watch this closely.

10. NAI opt out

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