Leave Me Alone!

How to Slow the Flow of Unwanted Communications

Many people feel overwhelmed by the unsolicited offers they receive at all hours of the day and night. For each category of unwanted communications listed below, you will find tips on: (1) how to get fewer unsolicited offers, and (2) how to report complaints.

Email Spam

Get Less

  • Sign up with the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Preference Service at https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/optoutemps.php. It’s free and lasts for six years. This is a voluntary industry program that will stop some but not all junk email.
  • Never respond to email spam. Your response is likely to trigger more spam to your email address.
  • Use an email filter. Most Internet Service Providers now offer spam filter tools that let you designate the email addresses you want to receive in your in-box and divert messages from unfamiliar sources into a separate folder.
  • Uncheck the box that signs you up for email updates. Sometimes when signing up online for a service or buying something, the company will have a box that already has a check in it stating you agree to receive promotional emails. You can sometimes uncheck this box.
  • Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. While some sites are legitimate, many are simply seeking to get your email address so they can sell it to others or for some other purpose.
  • Consider using two email addresses to limit public exposure. One email address can be used for more public activities such as chatrooms, newsgroups, online membership directors, and business transactions. The other email address can be for personal messages.
  • Do not post your email address on your Web site.

Report

  • Report email spam to the Federal Trade Commission by sending a copy of the unwanted or deceptive messages to spam@uce.gov, or visiting their website, FTC Complaint Assistant.
  • Report email spam to your Internet service provider (ISP) such as Comcast, Google Fiber, etc.

Text Spam

Get Less

  • Make sure your cell phone is in the Do Not Call Registry. You can register for it here: National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Be very careful where, and with whom, you share your cell phone number.
  • Do not respond to texts from questionable sources.
  • Do not click on any links in the text spam.
  • Do not send personal information (such as credit card numbers, Social Security Number, passwords) if you do not know the recipient.
  • Check with your mobile service provider about options to block future text messages from specific senders.

Report

Junk Faxes

Get Less

  • Make sure your cell phone is in the Do Not Call Registry. You can register for it at the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Be very careful where, and with whom, you share your fax number.
  • Do not respond to faxes from questionable sources.

Report

Junk Mail

Get Less

  • Sign up with the Direct Marketing Association. This is a voluntary industry program that will stop some but not all junk mail.
  • To stop most pre-approved credit offers for 5 years or permanently
  • Do not give out your name and address unless you know how those lists will be used.
  • Avoid “Sign Up to Win Contests” and similar contests. These are frequently used to generate mailing lists for use or sale to other companies.

Report

Telemarketing Calls

Get Less

  • Make sure your phone is in the Do Not Call Registry. You can register for it here: www.donotcall.gov. Alternatively, you can call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236), from the number you wish to register.
    • Registration is free.
    • Thirty days after you register, telemarketers covered by the National Do Not Call Registry must stop calling you. Note that registering only prohibits sales calls. You may still receive calls from other parties such as political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors. You may also still receive calls from debt collectors.
    • For more general information, see www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0108-national-do-not-call-registry.
  • Get an unlisted and unpublished phone number. Unlisted numbers usually get fewer unwanted calls. Or call your telephone company’s business office and ask to have your name removed from its street address directories. However, companies typically charge a monthly fee for these services.
  • Block the incoming number. However, your telephone company may potentially charge a fee for this.
  • Consider a voice-over-IP (VOIP) service.

Report


This fact sheet is for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice or as policy of the State of California. If you want advice on a particular case, you should consult an attorney or other expert. The fact sheet may be copied, if (1) the meaning of the copied text is not changed or misrepresented, (2) credit is given to the California Department of Justice, and (3) all copies are distributed free of charge.