mailing list consumer tips

How Did They Get My Name?

Lists of names and addresses are routinely compiled by marketers from countless sources. If you have a telephone (unless you have an unlisted number) your name and address are available to anyone with a pencil and a piece of paper. Indeed, one of the largest mailing lists in existence is simply a compilation of all the telephone-owning households listed in the nation's more than 4,000 phone books.

In most states, if you own a house, car, boat, or land, your name and address are available from public records. So are such publicly-recorded events as marriages, births, and divorces. All are available to anyone who wants to compile a mailing list from the source material.

Your high school and college directories may list your name, address, and class. If you are a doctor, lawyer, dentist, engineer, or teacher, you probably belong to one or more professional societies or associations whose membership lists show your name and address. Do you practice a profession for which the state has granted a license? Have you joined any business organizations such as a local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club? Many of these membership lists, while not, strictly speaking, public records, are widely available to the public. It is just as likely that you have subscribed to a magazine, made a donation to a charity, answered a survey that came with an appliance warranty, sent some money to a political party, bought a gadget or a gift from a catalog. Your name, address, and purchase (or donation) information are automatically recorded on that company's computerized list, and it is very likely that you will hear from the marketers again -- their goal is to build long-term relationships with their customers (or donors). It is also likely that, from time to time, they will rent or exchange your name and address with other direct marketers.

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