How Did a Retailer Get this Information?

saphireApril 4, 2007

A relative recently bought a big screen TV for his new NC retirement home. He is still living in NJ so that is his credit billing address. A few days later a representative of the retailer calls him up and says that since this was sent to a different address he needs to verify identity and answer questions

After a few questions that showed they had the wrong person, they finally start asking multiple choice ones he can answer


549 Ivy Road is in what city a, b, c or d

They moved from that address before 198-? It was almost 30 years since they lived there! Note the questioner did not disclose that he knew they had lived there

Next question is, which of the following people do you know

One of the choices was Jane Smith who lives in Ohio and is their dd! She uses her married name and has for 12 years! Her maiden name is Porter!

A bunch of other questions including one that asked about some property they owned at the shore which was not mortgages and never has been!

How does a TV retailer have access to this information? This was not even their credit card issuer asking but someone who sells TVs on the internet

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On the flip side, DH lost his ATM card and needed a new one. He hates dealing with this stuff so I called and put him on the phone for authorization, all they asked him was for part of his SS number which it sounds ike every retailer already knows and like most wives I know better than my own SS! I am thinking if my voice was deeper they would have no clue! To finalize the thing I actually had to answer a whole bunch of questions about when his accounts were opened and so forth before they would actually send out the new card but still, they really did not ask him hardly anything

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 3:03AM
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I don't know either!
Two days ago I got junk mail addressed to MY NAME, from Bryman College! I was completely floored at that one! A FIRST for me, and, as far as I know, had nothing to do with computer.

What I DO know...there are mailing lists EVERYWHERE to be sold and BOUGHT! Almost anyone can buy these. Sounds like the "source" maybe was either the place the TV was purchased - OR - if there was a warrantee to fill out, that could also be the source.

I get junk mail & junk calls daily, and it's not even funny anymore. I had a phone call yesterday from yet another "pusher" type company who obviously didn't know details. The questions are basically to "verify" info..., such as: "You ARE the homeowner?" (My response is "what do you want?")...and, basically they ask questions in such a manner that, if one is not on their toes, one would THINK they already HAVE info, but come off as "verifying" it. I get these calls ALL the time! I NEVER verify anything! When they ask for ("my name"), my immediate response is "Who is this?". If they rattle it off, I ask them to repeat. Then I ask, "what do you want?" I NEVER VERIFY that I'm the person who they are calling! But they still assume, and try to sell me something!

TWO day ago, I answered the phone. The gal says "Hi Cathie!". I asked "Who is this?" She rattled off some name & the company (a survey company), and immediately told me I can have a gift card for certain retailers/food places. My response was that I don't want a gift card for anything! She acted like she couldn't believe I'd turn down free gift card. She then asked if there was someone else in the family? I said "NO". Then she wanted to know WHY I didn't want a free gift! I told her I don't NEED anything!
Well, that phone call ended. (Most phone calls only end if I just "hang up"!)

Here's what I know. Years ago I went to a big fair, and filled out a ticket for a drawing to win a prize. (I think it for a car). I started getting tons of junk mail and phone calls that just wouldn't quit!
A few years later, I filled out a survey thing - (which I LIED on). I started getting tons of junk and calls after that!

Now, I rarely answer my phone! But I've been getting SO many rings and hang-ups again recently, that I decided to answer when I'm in the mood - to try to weed out those hang-ups that keep calling. (Put me on your "do not call list") - like THAT does any good! LOL!!!
(It's also good if I need to scream at someone - but nobody is home...haha!)

Yes, your second post says it all. One can easily get access to IMPORTANT info easier than getting rid of the telemarketeers! And THAT'S a down-right dirty shame!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 9:33AM
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My student loan company sold my info. I can tell because they were the only ones who used my name in that manner. I don't go by that. More recently, I bought some stuff out of a woman's clothing magazine. Now I get junk mail every day. Also, there are the family geneology researchers who think it's ok to post personal info about living people on the internet.

Go check yourself out at some of the online search places like In hunting for other people, I've found out quite a bit of things I wouldn't want grouped together online.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 10:22AM
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I don't know of any way to make it all disappear, BUT you can cut down a lot of it.

1) If you haven't already, sign up for the national "Do Not Call" registry. Here's the link:

2) Write to each of the three major credit reporting agencies and tell them you do not want your name, address, phone number or other information made available in any way shape or form to other companies.
The three major companies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You should be able to google them to get addresses. (Save copies for your own files).

3) If you have caller id and/or voice mail, turn the volume off on your phone. Or tell family/close friends to call you on your cell phone if you have one. (Telemarketers are forbidden to call cell phones)

4) Whenever you sign up for anything, look for a little box that says something like "Occassionally we make your information available to other companies" then they have you check it to either opt in or opt out. Always look for that little box and check it appropriately.

5) If you actually do talk to a marketeer, ask for the name of their company and a call back number. Then tell them to put you on their "Do Not Call" list. Keep a record. If they call you again, you DO have recourse. They can be fined.

Be aware that whenever you make a mail order purchase, that will probably get you on more mailing lists, but junk mail is pretty easy to recycle.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 10:54AM
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One somewhat amusing thing happened after we bought an investment property a couple of years ago. It is in my name only, and DH and I have different last names. Ever since then, we have been getting real-estate-related junk mail addressed to DH's first name + my last name. I guess they assume that the "spouse" of the purchaser is always the wife!

zone8_grandma, checking or not checking that box will indeed save you a lot of hassle.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 11:24AM
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Be careful about answering any questions like those. Sounds like they were fishing for data they could use to steal your identity. Esp since so many banks nowadays have you answer security questions when you log on to their websites (what was your address in childhood, etc).

I LOVE the do-not-call list!! There's also a junk mail opt-out thru the direct marketing assn. I forget where I found it--one of the financial magazine websites, probably--but a google search will probably turn it up.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 12:16PM
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Several years ago the N.R.A. sold our information to every conceivable insurance company on the planet. I was so ticked off. I had spent several years getting our names and address off all the junk mail lists. We were getting up to 8 to 10 offers for insurance a month. I called each one and ask to be removed and it took over 2 years to make it stop.

I called the N.R.A. and they said it was a way for then to make money, selling information, I told then that they would never see another penny from us. I had them take us off there mailing list and after several calls they finally did.

You can remove your name from lists for offers of credit and insurance by calling the TransUnion opt out number, 1888 5678688, they share the information with Equifax, Experian, and Innovis. When you call it will opt you out for 5 years and gives you the option to opt out permanently from lists that these consumer credit reporting companies provide to businesses. They send you a letter to sign and send back for permanently.

Since being on the do not call list we get very few calls but when we do I ask to be removed from there list and say if they call again I will report them to the Federal Trade Commission either on line at FTC. org or by calling 1877 3824357. That usually works.

One thing I can't seem to stop is offers to purchase our property. We own property in three county's and in the past several years the county's sell information. I know it's public information but they charge a fee for companies who want to look. The companies make mailing labels that they attach to form a letter with offers to buy. One told me that it is all done by computer and there was no way he could remove our name and address. Now I just shred them all.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 1:22PM
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Most of my junk phone calls - (the few times I'm in the mood to answer phone) - are from lenders who want to "save me lots of money" by re-financing. (HA!) Tons of re-fi junk comes in weekly thru mail for me also. This has been going on since we bot the house.
Most times I do not answer phone, and either it's a pre-recorded msg, or a hang-up.
I don't know how to get rid of the kazillion lenders out there!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 1:35PM
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Did you ask your lender not to share information when you bought?? If not call them and ask if they are giving you information to anyone. If the are tell then to stop.

If you are on the do not call list report these people to the FTC. It will take some time but if you call every offer you get in the mail and ask them to remove you they will. If there is not a phone number take a big red marker and write across the top "Take this name and address off you list" but don't sign it and sent it back to them in there pre paid envelope.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 2:13PM
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A couple more things - when you buy something with a warranty, you DO NOT have to fill out the warranty registration card for the warranty to be valid. All you have to do is save the receipt (I staple the receipt to the instruction/care info). That warranty card asks all kinds of info that is no one's business and puts you on more mailing lists.

Also, I never fill out those forms to enter sweepstakes. You know the ones - you are at a home show, etc, and you are offered the "chance to win a car...". Those forms generate more mailing lists.

Several years ago when my MIL had to go into a nursing home, I was astounded at the amount of junk mail (and junk phone calls she got). She was on every mailing list imaginable. I was able to get the junk mail down to a fraction.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 2:31PM
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This site explains how to opt out of direct mail offers. It also has a link to opt out of those pre-screened credit offers (I really hate those)

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Get off a mailing list

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 2:44PM
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Thank you, partst, for the Trans Union opt out number. Maybe, just maybe our junk mail volume will decline!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 5:50AM
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they find out that info from lexis/nexis, not sur eif that is the proper spelling, but they ar ethe company that buys ALL mailing lists and puts together profiles on everyone that show all past addresses, current neighbors, possible relatives, etc. anything tha tcan be used to track someone down. most collection agencies use them, that is how they call your neighbor to ask them to get you to call them. L/N is legal, but the ways it is used sometimes is not.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 10:02AM
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Thank you David and Kasie, you answered my question

While I appreciate the responses, this was not about phone solicitors or the do not call list. The company had sold them an expensive TV that my cousin order online and was being sent to another address (in this case legitamate). The TV has since been delivered and is fine. The compamy was trying to protect itself from credit card fraud and possibly losing lots of money if the card had been stolen. What scares me is that the TV seller knew who my cousin's relatives were who did not live in the same state or share the same last name and they knew where they had moved from 25 years ago! My cousins have lived at the same new address for all those years. Finally, the fact that this personal information was in the hands of not a bank but a retailer of TV sets, that is what scared me

Big brother is watching although it turns out it is private industry

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 1:52AM
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I have no idea how this happened but many years ago I got a phone call for my father. No small feat considering he'd been dead for 20 years at that time. He died in 1975.

I was called in Iowa. While in Iowa I never had my maiden name. Did I mention that he'd been dead twenty years and had died in California, never having set foot in Iowa in his life?

The call was for life insurance. I asked if I could purchase on his behalf as his beneficiary with interest. My father never got another phone call. :~)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 9:24PM
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I got a call once from someone selling grave plots. She asked for my husband. I told her he was using his...they never called back :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 1:11PM
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What is confusing to me is I shop at a store for one item they carry, which I use and that is it. Now I am getting catalogs and emails from that store. I know they took the address off the check--but my email??? I just delete and toss the catalog.
I know that most charties make money off selling lists but you would think after a year, they would stop sending you notices to plese come back- One organization I really got into it because they wanted medical information from DH and if anyone had diabeties in the family and I told them first, I subscribe to the magazine, and what they were asking me is not avaiable to anyone but the medical staff. Finally, I just said DO NOT CALL again and wrote the main office and then more calls. Now I get very little which is really too bad because research is really needed and all this money goes elswhere.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 3:57PM
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Saphire: The following link explains just one of the reasons why you might be getting mail from those you would least expect. That and search engines like Zaba, USA people search, etc. I've heard of search engines that will also list known relatives and neighbors. When we rented, we lived across the hall from someone who didn't pay a debt. We got a call from a collection agency asking questions about him. We told them we didn't know the person and not to call us again.

Data breaches 2006

I'd be cautious about anyone who called ME asking for information. My sister in law got a call one day from her bank. They knew enough about her that she gave them her checking account number. They started withdrawing 9.99 out of her account each month. When she finally noticed, she went to the bank in person and asked why anyone would be allowed to withdraw funds from her account without written authorization. They told her that because the company (insurance) was an affiliate, they didn't need anything in writing to be able to do this. They wouldn't refund her money so she told them where to go and switched banks. I told her she should report them to the Office of the Comptroller.

cathie54: Years ago I went to a big fair, and filled out a ticket for a drawing to win a prize. (I think it for a car). I started getting tons of junk mail and phone calls that just wouldn't quit!

Most contests are just a marketing ploy to get your information. I don't usually fill these out, but when I do, I don't include my telephone number and change the way I spell my name so I know where the junk is originating from. This works well with magazine subscriptions. I used to subscribe to Fine Woodworking. I subscribed under the name "Woody Johnson"! If you pay with a money order, it doesn't matter what name you use. That way I could keep track of who was selling my name and to who. Some people use their real name and add a fake middle initial that starts with the name of the magazine. Everyone has their own system.

We don't get many telemarketing calls these days. We signed up for the Do Not Call registry and never answer our phone. Our answering machine screens every single call. Family and friends know to say something if they want us to pick up. We don't bother with caller I.D. or privacy manager. It is just another racket. I think it should be against the law for the phone company to charge you for phone service AND be allowed to sell your number to strangers without your permission. I don't mind the solicitations for charity as much as I mind the political calls. What is the worst are the autodialers. They never leave a number to call so you can a) tell them where to go or b) tell them you won't vote for them as long as they use autodialers to harass you! Did you know when you call 800 and 900 numbers from your home telephone number, your number is displayed to the party you are calling? Doesn't matter if you have an unlisted/unpublished number.

I was in an auto accident a few years ago. The police showed up and had us fill out an accident report. Within a month I got mail from three lawyers and a chiropractor. Needless to say none of them got my business.

mariend: "What is confusing to me is I shop at a store for one item they carry, which I use and that is it. Now I am getting catalogs and emails from that store. One organization I really got into it because they wanted medical information from DH and if anyone had diabeties in the family and I told them first, I subscribe to the magazine, and what they were asking me is not avaiable to anyone but the medical staff."

Unless you paid cash, they will send you a catalog and sell your name to other stores (whether you opt out or not). We started donating to charity anonymously when we learned they sell their lists. Not worried about a tax deductions so we use money orders. There are many good causes out there, but we don't want to be hounded for $ by every single one of them.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 6:03PM
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I don't have a whole lot to contribute, but somehow the information is out there. My dad remarried recently and apparently her daughter (who I have never met) has some credit issue with Dillard's. How do I know? They called me looking for dad's wife's daughter. We have different last names, so they had to have made the connection thru my dad & his wife. Freaky!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 8:03AM
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DH recently had the experience when we opened a new bank account. They called needing to verify his information. They asked a bunch of questions about our SIL, who is not even a blood relative to either of us and has a different last name. How the heck was DH supposed to know how old she was within a five year range? The only reason he did was because there is a big age difference between BIL and SIL (she is older).

That Stepsister thing is freaky

    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 2:51AM
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saphire, those are the exact sort of questions you get asked when you go online to order your credit report.

I guessing that, since the guy who called works in the retailer's "anti credit-card fraud" unit, he probably had access to the same info that the credit unions have. Maybe he was even accessing it through the credit unions through some sort of "we'll help you avoid getting ripped off" licensing program the credit unions offer.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 12:58PM
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