Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Back in April of 2006, I signed up for the American Assn. of Retired Persons (AARP) prescription plan made available through the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). By April 12, 2006, I had received a mailing from Walgreens soliciting my business and offering help with my Medicare Prescription Drug Program. The mailing was disguised with an address to “The Dunning Household” but there was no doubt in my mind where Walgreens got my name. It had to be from my signing up with Medicare because nothing else had changed. I contacted AARP in May of 2006 to ask why, without permission, my name had been given to Walgreens. In a series of e-mail replies, I was recommended to a general number at United Health Care who administers the program for AARP. When calling this number, the person answering had no idea what I was talking about, and referred me to another number where I left a message that was never returned. Back to AARP where I asked for a direct contact at United Health Care, which they refused to give me, referring me back to the useless number, eventually blowing me off with “I am sorry but I do not have further information.” I have been an AARP member for over 25 years and, needless to say, I was shocked when this organization refused to provide assistance in my concern over the privacy of my personal data. United Health Care finally sent me their “Notice of Privacy Practices” in November of 2006 which you can read here, and, considering the number of ways they disclose your information, probably explains how Walgreens got my name. By the way, I received another Walgreens mailing still soliciting my prescription business in January of 2006, this time addressed to “The Dunning Family.” And then in June of 2007, AARP automatically signed me up for their “RX Prescription Solutions” program, also administered by United Healthcare, with an opt-out date that was impossible for me to meet. It said I could cancel later which I decided to do, primarily so I could monitor the activity using my private information. I was deluged with mail touting everything from an upgrade in the Medicare prescription program to trying to sell me drugs by junk mail. One particular mailing included six medications I currently take or have taken, indicating how AARP/United Health Care could save me money buying through them. I decided to cancel RX Prescription Solutions. If you are having similar problems, or have an opinion on this issue, contact AARP and tell them how you feel. OK. So what’s all the hullabaloo for if this is only about unwanted junk mail? The problem, of course, isn’t receiving the mail, it is the database that was created with my personal data, including health information, that concerns me. Even when I cancelled the program, they still retained my sensitive data, just moving it to another inactive database they will eventually use to try and sign me up again in the future. And this isn’t over-reaction because in my 35 years as a junk mail data broker, I have witnessed thousands of databases like this one created, and most of them are still around in the archives, some with minimum security, and could provide the next avenue for attack by the ID crooks.


Anonymous said...

Is there any way I can get my grandpa off the junk mail list without going through the "RX Prescription Solutions" thing?

Jack E. Dunning said...

Just Google the "DMA Mail Preference Service" and register your grandpa's name. Unfortunately this will only apply to Direct Marketing Assn. members, and there are hundreds of junk mail cos. who aren't members. Also, I take it your grandpa is a senior, therefore a target of many junk mailers, both honest and scamsters. May I suggest that you monitor his mail without invading his privacy to insure he does not become a victim of fraud.

I would be very interested if your grandpa has already been the victim of any fraud? E-mail me at

Good luck!


Jack E. Dunning
The Dunning Letter