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In Pursuit of Privacy: How to "Opt Out" (Part 2)

Updated on November 18, 2013

Just Say "No!" to Junk Mail

Junk mail, junk mail, everywhere—it's taking over our lives, stealing our "spare" time, wasting the post office's time and energy, and is just plain annoying! No more junk mail!
Junk mail, junk mail, everywhere—it's taking over our lives, stealing our "spare" time, wasting the post office's time and energy, and is just plain annoying! No more junk mail! | Source

Summary and Overview

In part 1 of this report, we talked about the role of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—what it can do to help us as consumers—and we visited the scary credit bureaus and got our personal information placed in the “opt-out” category (without accidentally subscribing to a service we don’t need). If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you can click the link in the note above.

In this, part 2, of the report, we’ll visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, a common source of junk mail in the past due to all of the information being readily available on our drivers’ licenses. (Don’t worry, there’s good news here!)

Then, we’ll visit the Direct Marketing Association and opt out of receiving the publications generated from their massive lists of information.

First, Let’s Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles area of the FTC Website

Click on the name to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles site now and do your own research. Or, stay here and I’ll give you the scoop.

Department of Motor Vehicles

Figure 3. "Department of Motor Vehicles" text on the FTC website.
Figure 3. "Department of Motor Vehicles" text on the FTC website. | Source

The FTC tells us two very important things, as shown in Figure 3:

Important Item #1: The Drivers Protection Act affords us some protection in that it lists the ways in which a DMV may distribute personal information for purposes such as insurance underwriting, law enforcement, driver safety, and so on. Okay, so now we know what they can distribute it for, among other things. Something’s missing though.

Important Item #2: An amendment to the Drivers Protection Act now prohibits a DMV from distributing personal information for any uses not listed on the Drivers Protection Act (unless you give them permission). That’s what was missing from the original Act—the part about when/where they can’t distribute information.

Now the only question is, did I give them permission, or does my state consider me opted-in unless I specifically opt-out? Contact your own state's DMV for more information and to verify that you are definitely opted-out.

Source

Minnesota’s DMV

Minnesota's DMV is here: https://dps.mn.gov/

Important: Make sure that you are on your STATE’s website (usually including a .gov extension) and not a website pretending to be yours that may charge unnecessary fees for products or information you could get through your actual state’s website. If you are on a different site—even if it is a “ .org” site and claims to be the “official” site for your state, do not believe it. For example, this site “MinnesotaDriversLicense.org: Your source for Minnesota driver's license information” is NOT an official government website, whereas “https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/default.aspx Driver and Vehicle Services: A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety” IS official. So, be careful out there everyone.

Tip: A legitimate government office never places ads promoting its website, so if you do a Google search, for example, that lists one or more websites in a highlighted box, you can safely ignore those highlighted sites as being unofficial and for-profit.

“Driver and Vehicle Services complies with all federal and state laws regarding the dissemination of motor vehicle and driver’s license data. The name, date of birth, and address information collected on motor vehicle and driver’s license applications is restricted and is only released to those entitled by law to receive the information.

Data Privacy Laws: United States Code, title 18, sections 2721, Minnesota Data Privacy Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13; Minnesota Statutes 168.346 and 171.12 subdivisions 7 and 7a.”

Here is something else I learned from looking up the information (buried pretty deep) in my own state’s DMV:

Minnesota also provides a form for requesting that your name, vehicle address, and residential address be kept private for individuals with “a grave concern for their safety or the safety of their family”.

Minnesota https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/forms-documents/Documents/PrivateDataRequest.pdf

So, Minnesotans need not take action to silence the DMV unless they need to request the special form because they have a "grave concern" regarding safety.

Virginia's DMV

For purposes of comparison, I also looked up the information on the state of Virginia:

http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/general/#records/release.asp “Virginia statutes do not permit DMV to release name and address information for marketing purposes. Therefore, there is no need for you to request that your information on DMV records be restricted from release.”

After MUCH digging, I found similar information on a third state’s official site, however the bulk of information and the difficulty in finding it on the state sites prohibits me from publishing it here. Many apologies.

One site that you should check out to help you find your legitimate DMV is http://www.dmv-department-of-motor-vehicles.com/. That site claims "Here are the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) online links for licenses and registration of your car or truck."

Now that you have verified that you are, indeed, opted out of mailing lists for your DMV, we will proceed to the Direct Marketers, another classic offender in spreading mailing lists for junk mail.

Other States' DMVs

After MUCH digging, I found similar information to the above two states on a third state’s official site, however the bulk of information and the difficulty in finding it on the state sites prohibits me from publishing it here. Many apologies; you will have to look this up yourself.

One site that you should check out to help you find your legitimate DMV is http://www.dmv-department-of-motor-vehicles.com/. That site claims "Here are the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) online links for licenses and registration of your car or truck."

Done with the DMVs, On with the DMA

Now that you have verified that you are, indeed, opted out of mailing lists for your DMV, we will proceed to the Direct Marketers, another classic offender in spreading mailing lists for junk mail.

Third, Contact the Direct Marketers

Source
Figure 4. Direct Marketers
Figure 4. Direct Marketers | Source

The Direct Marketing Association: $1 and 5 Years Later, You're Up for Sale Again

Go to www.dmachoice.org to register with the DMA’s Mail Preference Service for a $1 fee that is only good for 5 years.

This means that registering with this service only keeps your name from being used for 5 years. So, every 5 years you must remember to re-register. I suggest registering immediately after reading this article and then at the beginning of January of every year following that ends in a 0 or a 5. For example, 2013, 2015, 2020, 2025, and so on. That way you won’t need to wonder if it’s time to re-register or not.

Important Note: If you have opted IN to receive (requested) a particular company's catalog or have done business with a company, you are not exempt from receiving junk mail from those sources. In this case, you will need to call or write the company directly and request to be removed from their mailing list. Make up a template of 4 messages/page so you can quickly print, cut, and send (in their postage paid envelope in the middle of the catalog, sometimes) your request to the company.

Tip when calling: I've found that, when calling a company to be removed from their mailing list, you often do not get service or that you wait on hold forever or your call is disconnected—if you press the telephone buttons to request the mailing list area. So, unethical though it may be, I press the number (typically "1") for ordering products from the company, and I get better and faster service, saving me about 15-20 minutes per catalog on average. Calling after the traditional dinner hour also reduces the wait time for most types of products and services.

What do you think of parts 1 and 2 of the 'Pursuit of Privacy' report so far?

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of the report thus far...

In Summary...

I gave you the good news first, about the DMVs being locked into protecting your info. Now, as you see, other organizations aren't that friendly.

In this document, we silenced (at least for 5 years, in the case of the DMA) the two historically most shameless sources of disseminating personal information for creation of junk mail, cold calls, and other unwelcome interruptions to our lives. You have won a great victory and saved many trees and prevented landfills and recycling facilities from receiving junk mail.

But, there is still so much more that can be done…

As soon as section 3 of this report is complete, a link will be placed here for your convenience. Section 3 is where the really good stuff is... I do hope that you will stick around and find out the myriad ways of regaining a lot more of your privacy.

Note: If you haven’t read section 1 yet, you can click here at any time to read Section 1.

Note: I love feedback—positive and negative. Please let me know what you think about this report so far and whether or not it's helping you (scroll down to the feedback and ratings areas). Thanks!

About the Author

Information about the author, a list of her complete works on HubPages, and a means of contacting her are available over on ==>Laura Schneider's profile page. But wait--please leave ratings and any comments you have about this article so that it can be improved to best meet your needs. Thank you!


All text, photos, videos, and graphics in this document are Copyright © 2013 Laura D. Schneider unless indicated otherwise or unless in the public domain. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

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