Mailing Lists

There are two types of e-mailing lists. 'Compiled lists' are made up, often by specialist companies, from freely available information, such as that contained in electoral registers, street or phone directories, share registers, and so on. 'Response lists' are compiled within an organisation either for internal use or for rent or sale to other organisations. You get onto a response list as a result of buying something or showing an interest in a product - for example, you might subscribe to a particular magazine, or have taken out cover with a motoring organisation.

It's good practice for an organisation with whom you're doing business to let you know that your details might be put on such a list and to give you the opportunity to decline, but at present not all organisations take this approach.

TIP - If you ask, an organisation must tell you if you're on a computerised list that they have. For a fee you're entitled to a written copy of the information held. You can, without charge, have incorrect data about you corrected. These rights, which you have under the Data Protection Act 1984, apply only to automatically processed data held about you, and not to manually compiled and stored lists.

Compiling, renting and buying or selling lists is big business and there are brokers who specialise in it. Checks are made on the organisations or people using such lists but occasionally these are not very rigorous.

Sending you unsolicited e-mail advertisements is perfectly legal, but you might find it irritating. Many e-mail advertisers now belong to the e-mailing Preference Service; if you want to reduce the amount of e-mail that you receive you can ask the service to have your name removed from its members' e-mailing lists. You can also use the Service to specify the types of e-mail that you would like to continue getting or even ask to be added to more e-mailing lists. You can contact the Service, or get an information leaflet about it, by writing to:

Mailing Preference Service Freepost 22, London W 1 E 7EZ

WARNING If e-mail which you wish to cancel, using the e-mailing Preference Service, is wrongly addressed make sure you give the Service the incorrect version of your address as well as the correct version. Otherwise, the computer won't pick out all the e-mail to be stopped.

TIP - I f you're getting unwanted e-mail from an organisation which doesn't belong to the e-mailing Preference Service, you should write to the organisation direct asking them to remove you from their list. Most organisations will comply, as they have no wish to pay for advertising that they know won't work.

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An increasingly popular way of seeking customers for financial products and services is to send advertisements through the post.

The technique relies heavily on the use of lists - usually computer-generated - of people grouped by, say, where they live, shares they've purchased, and so on. Using a list lets the provider of the product or service closely target his advertising to the people most likely to buy.

Extra rules e-mail is another form of printed advertisement and as such is covered by the British Code of Advertising Practice, as well as the other codes and laws already... see: e-mail

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