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Jewish World Review
‘Leave me alone!’
Randy A. Salas
(MCT) Phone solicitations, customer-service run-arounds, spam, e-mail registrations sometimes they make you want to scream like Drew Barrymore in, well, the movie “Scream” (pictured). Save your breath. These websites will let you actually do something to curb those annoyances.
National Do Not Call Registry
The Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry offers an easy way to register your phone number so that you don't receive calls from telemarketers. Once you sign up, you should stop receiving unwanted phone solicitations after 31 days. If you don't, you can register a complaint at the same site. The registration expires after five years, at which time you can re-up.
Spam, or junk mail, in your e-mail in-box is much harder to fight. There's no way to "get off the list,?? so to speak. But the Spam Abuse site can help you curb its effect with tips such as not posting your e-mail address on the Web, creating e-mail filters to weed it out of your in-box and installing blocking software.
Websites that require you to register your e-mail address and other personal information just to read their content and use various features, even if free, can be annoying. To the rescue comes the user-contributed BugMeNot. Enter the URL of the website you want to visit in the form at BugMeNot, and you'll get a list of user names and passwords that others have created to access that site. Not all user names and passwords still work some have expired but BugMeNot users rank their success with each entry as a guide.
Several years ago, Paul English started a grass-roots effort to list short cuts for callers to get to a real person when calling companies' automated customer-service numbers. That list on his personal website became so popular through media exposure and Internet buzz that it spawned its own website, Gethuman, this year. Look up a company in the database, and its entry will provide the customer-service number and instructions on how to break out of the automated menu choices and talk to a real person. When calling MetLife, for example, you press the # key four times to get a human. Some don't even require action. If you don't say or press anything when calling Chase, for example, a real person will come on the line to see if anyone is there. Gotcha.
OptOutPrescreen is a service cooperatively run by the major consumer-credit reporting companies the folks who provide your personal and credit info for insurance and credit-card companies to send you unsolicited offers, aka junk mail. The website helps you get off those junk-mail lists. You have to provide your personal info, including Social Security number, for the best results, but the site is encrypted for security. You can opt out from unwanted credit and insurance offers for a five-year period online, or you can opt out permanently by submitting your info online and then printing and mailing a form. The site also allows you to opt in so that you get as much junk mail as the credit and insurance companies can send you. Ha! That's a good one.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Randy A. Salas is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Do you have a favorite Web site or a question about how to find something on the Internet? Send a note by clicking here.
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© 2006, Star Tribune Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.