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Monday, October 08, 2007


The Direct Marketing Assn. (DMA), the industry representative for junk mail companies, meets in Chicago for its annual convention the end of this week. For the last six months I have implored John Greco, DMA president, to allow interested consumers in to the exhibition hall free to question mailing list professionals about how their names and personal data are being sold all over the world. It is a $4 billion annual business, and growing each year as they uncover or you give up more of your private information that sells for a premium. I have already done three posts on the subject starting last June. You can read them here: One, two, and three. Greco’s answer to my e-mails was…no answer. Not even the courtesy of a side comment like, “Buzz off Dunning, junk mail is too secretive an industry, especially in the selling of names and personal data, to share this with the consumer.” So after being blown off by the head junk mailer, I decided to go to the Chicago media including newspapers, TV and radio, and tell them the same story. I also pumped out several op-eds to major newspapers across the country touting the fact that apparently junk mailers weren’t interested in leveling with the very customers that paid their bills. I had one reply from a Chicago TV station that was “very interested” but eventually went quiet, and also didn’t return my e-mails. The lone responder to my op-ed efforts was the North Jersey Record publishing my piece, “How junk mail can save the day.” It is one of the larger US newspapers, close to New York City, and they had published my articles before, but why not Chicago? Is it possible that the convention business is more important to the windy city than the truth about what happens to our names and private information? I would hope not, but wouldn’t at least “talk radio” jump in to take advantage of such a juicy subject? The fact that our individual sensitive data is recklessly handled and lost by junk mailers and non-junk mailers in an era of high-risk identity theft is an issue that should be foremost in the minds of every consumer. And if it isn’t, the national media should at least explore the possibility that there could be a conspiracy—all in the name of protecting the profits of the information collecting and selling industry—to cover up the way in which consumers’ names and personal data are manipulated. I am resolved to converting what I have identified as the “apathetic” public, those who feel, “this couldn’t happen to me,” until it does. That is what The Dunning Letter is all about. And if you really believe it won’t happen to you, just think about the 8.4 million 2006 ID theft victims who ended up spending an average of $5,720 each to straighten out the dilemma, taking 25 hours to get the job done. Folks, that stolen or lost private information is out there, and it is just a question of time until the crooks get around to using your “goodies.” When it happens, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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