Individuals’ rights should be honored by businesses and corporations. Citizens can take action to ensure that corporations do not take advantage of them in their personal life. The following are some simple ways you can protect yourself with the substantial rights you already have, but may rarely use.
TELL A CORPORATION “DO NOT CALL”
Next time a telemarketer calls, respond with, “Put me on your do-not-call list.” Corporations are required under law to have such lists and to pay $500 every time they call someone on the list. If you receive repeated calls from the same corporation, keep detailed phone logs and take legal action.
Send the following note to a corporation that you do business with, indicating that you “Opt Out” of their system of sharing your private financial information:
- I am asserting my rights under the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act to “Opt Out” of the following two uses of my personal information:
- Do not disclose personally identifiable information with non-affiliated third-party companies or individuals.
- Do not disclose my creditworthiness to any affiliate.
- Further, I request, even though it may not be required by law, that you:
- Do not disclose my transaction and experience information to any affiliate of yours.
- Do not disclose any information about me in connection with marketing agreements between you and any other company.
I would appreciate written confirmation of these requests.
You can also remove your name from lists to prevent junk mail and junk phone calls. For more information, go to the Direct Marketing Association website: www.the-dma.org
CHANGE A CORPORATE CONTRACT
Corporations typically require individuals to sign long, standardized contracts that often have repugnant clauses in the fine print, such as a waiver of the right to trial. Next time you are presented with such a contract, read it and cross out the objectionable provisions before you sign. No corporation can force you to sign a contract. In some cases, it works. In others, it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you’re simply back to making a decision based on the limits of the offer. If it does, you’ve retained important rights.
STOP CORPORATE JUNK FAXERS
A federal law makes it illegal to send an unsolicited commercial advertisement to a fax machine from anywhere in the U.S.A. People who receive junk faxes have the right to recover at least $500 per fax. In most cases, the law authorizes courts to award up to $1,500 per fax. For how to stop junk faxers and a sample complaint, go to www.consumerwatchdog.org/other/junkfaxes/
CHALLENGE A CORPORATION
When a corporation upsets you, put your gripe in writing to the corporation, to a regulator, to the media and to consumer protection groups. The corporation may or may not change, but the letter memorializes your problem. If it is serious enough, the corporation will want to fix it because, if they don’t, they will get sued and such letters will show that they knew of the problem. The best way to make corporations nervous is to put something serious about them in writing.
Local producers are more accountable to individuals than large corporations. For instance, local businesses will be more responsive to complaints especially if you tell other locals about the same problem.
VOTE WITH A CONSCIENCE
Vote for the consumer-friendly candidates, initiatives, etc. Do research. Request information about candidates’ positions on important issues from the candidates and consumer protection groups.