The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

March 15, 2014

Free gift in the mail? Keep it

(Continued)

It’s not the most common scam around, but it does happen. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission just announced the convictions of two Florida men on fraud charges for running such a scam. They preyed on Spanish-speaking consumers. They ran telemarketing companies based in Argentina. Their telemarketers called Spanish-speakers in the U.S. and offered to sell vitamins, supplements or cosmetics.

If the consumer ordered something, they received other products instead. When the consumers disputed the bills, or refused to pay them, the telemarketers threatened to arrest, deport or add fines to the utility bills of the consumers. A federal judge in Miami sentenced one man to 10 years in federal prison; the other received a sentence of 9 years.

While I am writing about merchandise received in the mail, I want to remind you about what you can do to get your names taken off direct mailing lists. The Direct Marketing Association is an organization to which most direct mailers belong. Their members send out 80 percent of the direct mail in the U.S.

Starting in 1971, they offered a service to consumers, allowing us to opt out of some or all direct mail, including charitable solicitations. Since 2005, they expanded this offering to include three other options:

n Opting out of commercial emails, called the email opt out service

n MTV boys tennis preview Removing the names of the deceased from mailing lists, called the Deceased Do Not Contact List

n Removing the names of dependents for whom you act as caretaker, called the Do Not Contact for Caretaker List

The easiest way (and the free way) to register for these services is to visit their website, www.dmachoice.org. If you want to register by mail, you can register by sending a form to: DMAchoice, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel NY 10512.

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