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This news item expired on 1/31/2014, so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
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Mailbox Overflowing with Catalogs?


Catalog sales companies will fill your mailbox with attractive full color glossy catalogs featuring merchandise for you to buy. Companies with whom you have never done business before may also send you their holiday season catalog. How Photo of catalogs.did they find you?

Catalog sales companies and magazines sold profiling data for many years before the advent of online tracking and profiling. The credit reporting agency (CRA) Experian is one of the prime providers of cooperative database information provided from catalog and magazine sales. Here’s what you can do.

  • Opt out of information-sharing programs.
    Tell catalog merchants not to sell, rent, or share information about your purchase. Approximately 90% of mail order or catalog merchants will share your personal information--often with huge "cooperative databases." Unless you opt out of their information-sharing program, catalog merchants may sell information relating to items purchased and details about those items. For instance, if you purchase clothes via mail order, the company may sell your dress, shirt, or pants size to cooperative databases.
  • Get off mail marketing lists.
    The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) operates Mail, Telephone, and E-Mail preference services. Individuals can submit their names and contact information to these services to avoid direct mail and other solicitations. You may register with the Mail Preference Service name-removal file online or by mailing your name, home address and signature in a letter. There is a $1.00 fee payable by credit card for online registration or by check or money order when registering by mail. The registration removes your information from marketing lists for five years.

Register online at:

Register by mail:

  • Direct Marketing Association
    Mail Preference Service
    P.O. Box 282
    Carmel, NY 10512

Dr. Carolyn Bird
Assistant Professor, Family Resource Management
North Carolina State University