Hello Visitors from Newsy!

A few months ago a reporter from Newsy contacted me asking about junk mail. Some reporters want information about specific groups or a person who keeps popping up whenever you start to research scam PACs or scam charities. Not Karen. She wanted the BIG picture. She wanted to know about Big Data and international scams. I warned her that was a hard story to tell. It is so big, and there is so much going on. But she kept at it, for months.

This week Newsy is posting the story: Big Mail. Here is the piece plus a bonus video.

I won’t get to watch it until Monday on Roku. But I can give you some greatest hits of the blog, and a photo of the letter I’m reading in the preview.

Please read the About page for the back story of this blog.

The most important page, really the hart of the blog, is the Are You Drowning in Junk Mail? page. That is where I tell you step by step how to stop a massive junk mail problem.

Big Data part 1: Who or What is Big Data? and Big Data part 2: How to Opt-out of Big Data. Here is where I talk about Big Data and how to stop it.

Wrap up stats and other thoughts. When I ended the blog I made a post with a lot of scary numbers and a walk down memory lane of all the crap I got in the mail.

And just for fun here is the post documenting the most difficult time I had stopping one companies junk mail.

If you liked the story from Newsy, I highly recommend CNN’s story about Maria Duval. And the book that expands on the story.

Now for some vintage junk mail:

This mailpiece from Carmen Dumas is from 2014. This is the first page of the 5 page letter. In the preview I’m reading the first paragraph.

Spoiler Alert: Her help isn’t free. She wants $50 or for an extra $5 she will rush ship your lucky numbers to you.

Carmen Dumas Clairvoyant scam

If you all want I can give this scam letter it’s own post. Let me know in the comments.

This blog is mostly dark now. I made a Facebook page for the blog where I post news stories that relate to this blog. Elder fraud, scams, Postal workers not delivering mail (where were they when I needed them?) and anything else that catches my fancy.

If you need help stopping junk mail you can email me darthjenni@gmail.com or Facebook chat at the DIJM Facebook page. And unlike Carmen my help really is free.

Big Data part 2 , How to Opt-out of Big Data

In my last post we learned about what big data is. Today we will learn how to opt-out of it. What I wanted is very simple, compared to the media black out I am about to teach you. Because I am not her, it was harder to opt-out of some data companies than others (this is sensitive information blah blah blah). Dropping that I had power of attorney on them usually did the trick. You can do as little or as much as you want. Just know that every time you swipe your member card at the super market you undo a part of this. Just using the internet people can track you. I am tracking you right now. I know the search term you typed into a search engine to find this blog. I know what country you are in. This topic gets very creepy very fast.


Mrs. Smith has just looked up “baby stroller”on Google. We need to make sure every ad she sees on the internet today, are for baby strollers.

This list is a combination of 4 websites: World Privacy Forum and Stop Data Mining Me, a Reddit thread and a new article from Computer World. They are all a little different, and some of the links were out of date.

DMA Choice If you have read this blog more than 5 minutes, you should have done this all ready.

Opt-Out Pre-Screen or call1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to opt-out of credit card offers. They are going to ask you for your Social Security Number. It is OK, that is the way the credit bureaus ID you.

The 3 credit bureaus and FICO:

Data Brokers:

People Searches:

  •  Intelius people search opt-out here. They want you to send them your driver’s license with the photo and the number blacked out. The next 3 are all owned by Intelius but you have to opt-out for each one individually.
    • PublicRecords360 opt-out here or fax them your driver’s license (photo and license number blacked out) to 425-974-6194
    • ZabaSearch.com Record blocking page, you have to fax them your driver’s license (photo and license number blacked out) to 425-974-6194
    • PeopleLookup.com you have to fax them your driver’s license (photo and license number blacked out) to 425-974-6194
  • People Finders  opt-out here. That was the best one so far. I wish they were all that easy.
  • Spokeo Inc. opt-out here. You must look yourself up in their system and tell them the URL that you want deleted.
  • Zoominfo opt-out here. They ID you by your email. Enter your email and they send you an email to tell you if you are in their system.
  • Pipl opt-out here you have to put your name in URL form https://pipl.com/n/firstname_lastname/ and it will pull up everyone with your name.
  • MyLife.com To delete your profile email privacy@mylife.com or call (888) 704-1900
  • BeenVerified.com opt-out page
  • PeekYou.com opt-out page
  • USSearch.com call (800) 877-3272
  • PeopleSmart.com opt-out page. It is very nice and easy to use. But they want me to give them an email address and a password to a website I will never use.
  • PrivateEye.com opt-out page. They want all your addresses going back 20 years, then to mail this form in.
  • WhitePages.com  Data policy page. These guys are lame they put it all on 3rd parties. It’s not us tracking you, it is these guys we hired.
  • USA-People-Search.com opt-out page
  • DOBSearch.com you have to fax them your driver’s license (photo and license number blacked out) to 516-717-3017
  • Radaris.com How to opt-out you have to sign up and claim your page. To do that you must give them all of your info. WTF?!

These are just the top sites. The theory is that if you opt-out of these top sites it will filter down to the copy cat sites.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s Privacy Badger blocks spying ads and invisible trackers that follow you around while you are surfing the internet

Universal Web Tracking Opt Out Do Not Track it is a plug-in for your browser.

You can see who is tracking you online and then opt-out of them NetWorkAdvertising.org

Like everything now a days there is an app for that: abine’s Blur for private browsing so big data can’t track you on the web, $39 a month for premium service, or their Delete Me service that “deletes your personal information from the internet” that costs $129 for a year subscription.

There is also MyLife.com. they charge 95.40 a year after a 7 day free trial.

From now on do not enter drawings or sweepstakes at the fair or the ballpark. It is not about winning the car it is about getting your info. Same goes for product registration cards or warranty cards that come with your new toaster. Don’t fill out surveys that come in junk mail, they just want your demographic data so they can market to you better. Don’t completely fill out your social media profile. Don’t tell it where you live, where you work, when your were born. “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

Forbes talking about the big business of selling your info when you move.

If you want to read more about how to protect your personal data Computer World has a 3 part series The paranoid’s survival guide . Part 1 How to protect your personal data, Part 2 Protect your privacy on social, mobile and more, and Part 3 Opting out, and how to protect your personal data offline

Today’s photo is of ENIAC

Big Data part 1 – Who or What is Big Data?

I have been reluctant to talk about Big Data. It is a huge topic, and researching it can take you to some strange and creepy corners of the internet. But in the over all story of stoping junk mail, and keeping it stopped it is important. To Big Data you are not a person, but a file made up of data points. They are not sending junk mail to you, but to your data points.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera talking about data broker acxiom

In this New York Times article they tell the story of Target using buying habits to figure out if a woman is pregnant, with a great anecdote involving an angry father who was a casualty in the data mining war:

As the marketers explained to Pole — and as Pole later explained to me, back when we were still speaking and before Target told him to stop — new parents are a retailer’s holy grail. Most shoppers don’t buy everything they need at one store. Instead, they buy groceries at the grocery store and toys at the toy store, and they visit Target only when they need certain items they associate with Target — cleaning supplies, say, or new socks or a six-month supply of toilet paper. But Target sells everything from milk to stuffed animals to lawn furniture to electronics, so one of the company’s primary goals is convincing customers that the only store they need is Target. But it’s a tough message to get across, even with the most ingenious ad campaigns, because once consumers’ shopping habits are ingrained, it’s incredibly difficult to change them.

Because birth records are usually public, the moment a couple have a new baby, they are almost instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies. Which means that the key is to reach them earlier, before any other retailers know a baby is on the way. Specifically, the marketers said they wanted to send specially designed ads to women in their second trimester, which is when most expectant mothers begin buying all sorts of new things, like prenatal vitamins and maternity clothing. “Can you give us a list?” the marketers asked.

As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.

About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation.

“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

“We have the capacity to send every customer an ad booklet, specifically designed for them, that says, ‘Here’s everything you bought last week and a coupon for it,’ ” one Target executive told me. “We do that for grocery products all the time.” But for pregnant women, Target’s goal was selling them baby items they didn’t even know they needed yet.

“With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.

“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”


Mrs. Smith has just bought prenatal vitamins. Send diaper coupons out to her STAT!

Pregnant women are such a target that this woman tried to go her whole pregnancy without advertisers or the internet finding out. Instead of acting like a mother to be, she ended up acting like a criminal.

Article by Advertising Age that talks about how retailers have all this data about us, but they don’t know how to use it properly.

Visa, the world’s largest credit card network, can predict how likely you are to get a divorce.

How big data helped Trump become president 

Some stories about Big Data by Melanie Hicken the reporter who contacted me.

Find out what Big Data knows about you (it may be very wrong)

Big Data is secretly scoring you

Big Data: Look who’s buying your personal information

Feds say it’s time to regulate Big Data

How about some TED Talks? Everyone loves TED Talks: 9 TED Talks about Big Data

Now that you are hiding under the bed clutching on to your data, come back tomorrow and I will show you how to take control of the information about you that is floating around.

Today’s image is of the ENIAC. It is a part of a Fortune piece about the women who programed the ENIAC.