I just bought a new microwave oven. Inside the box was a product registration card saying that if I wanted warranty protection I’d need to fill out the card and mail it within 10 days. The card asked all sorts of nosy questions—like my annual income, marital status, ages of my children, and the types of credit cards I own. Do I have to give them any of this information?
No. In fact, you don’t have to fill out a registration card to qualify for warranty protection. In most cases all you need is a receipt indicating when and where you bought the product and how much you paid for it. These cards are really just marketing surveys in disguise. Most go directly to data mining companies, who use the info you provide to send you more junk mail, telemarketing pitches, and spam.
One exception to this rule is software. If you purchase software from a major vendor like Microsoft or Symantec, you may be compelled to register your copy online or it will stop working. Such procedures are used to combat software piracy (as well as compel users to renew their software subscriptions). If you must register, give the bare information necessary to activate your software, and be sure to opt out of any offers to add you to their mailing lists (unless you really want more junk in your life).
For six months I’ve been getting calls from a collection agency for a debt owed by John J. Johnson. As I’ve explained ...