The thread about SMS marketing prompted this question as in recent weeks I have received five lots of junk mail from charities - Salvos, Cancer Council (2), Guide Dogs and a hospital foundation.
Knowing for a fact that I had never subscribed to these charities in any way, I was quite surprised about the information contained in them about me and I rang each to inquire as to how they obtained my private information.
Only the hospital foundation agreed to assist and provided me with their broker's details. That's right, they purchased my information, along with yours probably, from a marketing broker. I called this broker and was told that I'd consented to having my information released. When I insisted of having them provide proof they baulked and I found myself saying words like Ombudsman and phrases like Privacy Act came flying out. The girl to whom I was speaking suddenly told me that my information may have come from my hospital file as they are routinely screened apparently.
Not happy, Jan.
Further investigation revealed that this was a possibility as were two other avenues - my bank and my electricity and phone service provider although the hospital where I birthed was adamant that files were closed. Thing is, I was able to gain access to it without providing any ID And if I knew your full name and birth date, I could probably gain access to yours too.
This is why I never give my real birth date to anyone other than the Department of Social Security and the Dept of Transport...and that's only because they demand proof but have a right to do so. Not sure how secure that'd be but hopefully a damn sight more secure than those listed above.
I have written to each charity, asked them for the source of their information regarding me, further requested that they remove me from their database, advised them that I did not give permission for my information to be used and that I will not support any charity that uses such means to gain support.
So far, only the hospital foundation has offered anything by way of apology and a quick deletion. The others have remained noticeably silent. And I, in turn, will never ever support these charities again.
I write this not to moan but to warn you that organisations will stoop to dirty tactics to try and get a foothold in your door. Don't let them. Your information is very valuable and should not be bandied about. It's not enough that they're a charity and they shouldn't be excused that they are. In fact, I find the fact that they are disgusting as they are, IMHO, abusing their position of trust in the community.
So just be aware and if you get sent stuff from people you don't know or don't remember giving your name, address and other details to, find out and then complain.