CLEVELAND - There's the do-not-call list, a do-not-mail list and a do-not-email list. But, there's one list you can't get off once you're on it. It's called a sucker list.
Keith Riggs is fighting a war he may never win.
"Here's $167,000," Riggs said pointing to a check that came in the mail addressed to his father. "Here's one he started working on," Riggs said of another offer that his dad underlined after reading through the get-rich-quick offers.
Riggs' father scans every line of every piece of mail and highlights the multiple offers to get rich quick. "Thinks it's a great deal. Thinks he's going to make money off it," Riggs said.
The riches never roll in, the money just rolls out. "I bet it's been $350,000," Riggs explained.
Riggs said his dad lost his life savings little by little, $10 here and $50 there, but it added up over the last 10 to 15 years. Back then, Riggs never expected it would spiral this far out of control.
"You're young. You think, 'Whatever Dad, do your thing.' We had our lives ... but now .... Looking back hindsight is 20/20," Riggs explained.
Riggs' dad is most likely on a sucker's list. It's a list used by fraudsters, scammers and schemers -- and they target you every way they can.
"A sucker list is a list you get on because you responded to an email you shouldn't. You got on a mailing list for something you ordered. You responded to something online," Sue McConnell with the Better Business Bureau explained.
McConnell said once you fall for a work-at-home scam, foreign lottery, bogus charity, get rich quick company or phoney sweepstakes, your good name could be used for illegitimate purposes.
"They're going to come back time and time again because they know they have a live one," McConnell said.
The elderly are vulnerable because they want to make money to leave behind for their loved ones. With the Internet, young people may fall prey, too. It takes just one mistake.
Set up a second e-mail inbox for online shopping and offers. That way if you get on an Internet sucker's list, you can just delete the e-mail address. If only getting rid of mail were as easy as hitting "delete."
"It's virtually impossible to get off a sucker's list, to be truthful," McConnell explained.
The best thing you can do is begin reducing the "other" mail by joining an "opt out" and "do not mail" list. The lists cover pre-approved offers for insurance and credit cards, catalogs, magazine offers and other promotions.
"Obviously thanks to you," Riggs said, "you gave me some information and we're going to definitely get him on those lists to try to alleviate this mess."
With each piece of mail that goes in the trash, it's a reminder of what this family lost that they'll never regain. It's a mess Riggs never expected his dad would fall into, after all, he was a successful enterpeneur who simply got suckered one too many times.
"It's been tough. It's a tough ride," Riggs explained. "It made us realize how many crooks are out there."
The Riggs family is speaking out so another family doesn't have to experience this. The key is realizing you're on a sucker's list early on before the problem spirals out of control.
"My suggestion is if you have elderly parents get involved with them and make sure they are not getting scammed. Check their phone records. Check their utility records. Check everything you can but still let them have their freedom," Riggs said.
Also, prevent the problem in the first place. Here are some ways to do that:
Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference
- Online Registration for the do not mail list -- http://bit.ly/fQf5Be
- Register by mail -- will cost $1, download form here: http://bit.ly/eGQOXS
While the DMA list helps remove your name from lists, it's not fullproof. Some organizations want a national do-not-mail list, while others say consumers already have enough options and a national list would hurt business.
Forest Ethics Do Not Mail Campaign -
- Trying to get a national do not mail list similar to do not call list
Mail Moves America Campaign -
- Campaign of businesses arguing that jobs would be lost by a national do not mail list. Mail Moves America believes consumers already have enough options.
Get off commercial e-mail lists
Also, at the bottom of marketing e-mails, there is an option to remove your e-mail from the sender's list. This is another way to reduce emails, and get your email removed from a list one at a time.
Deceased do not contact list
Tired of getting mail for a deceased loved one? Does it upset you everytime you see it? This list will be helfpul.
Do Not Contact Caretaker’s Registration
The list removes names of loved ones you are caring for from marketing lists
- Opts you out of prescreened offers from credit card and insurance companies
- If you opt out electronically it will last 5 years
- To permanently opt out, you need to do it by mail
Order consumer reports
Protect your good name by ordering your free consumer reports every year. They’re helpful in identifying identity theft. If you notice a strange pattern of activity on your report, you could be an ID theft victim. It also allows you a chance to see what companies know about you.
There are 10 consumer reports that every consumer should inspect. Some are more important than others. Start by checking your Annual Credit Report at least once a year. To keep track of it year round, check one bureau every four months. For example, check Experian in January, TransUnion in May, and Equifax in September. It does not matter which order you check the reports if you check them every four months.
Here's a look at the other nine reports that contain information
about you that are free to obtain: