A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Here’s How to Opt Out of Basically Everything

From getting bombarded with online ads to stopping unwanted texts, you can opt out of anything

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Reclaim your time

Sometimes it can seem like companies are constantly hounding you to make a buck. They send you spam, track your cookies and seem to know every step you take online. It can make you wonder how to disappear from the internet altogether. Well, you have the choice to opt out of all that mess. We’re going to teach you how to beef up your online security, search anonymously without tracking, remove personal information from Google, teach you what are cookies and how to prevent them from tracking you online.

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How to opt out of advertisers tracking you online

If you have the strange sensation that you’re being followed online, you’re not crazy. You are. Companies leave “cookies” on your web browser. These track and collect data about you in order to sell you goods via customized ads.

You can put a dent in those ads by going to the site of the Network Advertising Initiative, where you can opt out of all those pesky advertisers. But note, it doesn’t mean you won’t continue to receive ads. You just won’t get ads from NAI members.

Also, when you go to a new website and the “Allow cookies?” message pops up, select “no.”

You can halt cookies using your browser too. On Google Chrome you can go anonymous when you search by selecting the “New Incognito Window” option under “File.” You can also turn off cookies by going to Preferences —> Settings. Click the Privacy and Security menu —> Cookies and other site data. Tick the box next to “Block all cookies” to finish.

You may also want to know how to clear cookies from your phone.

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How to opt out of data collection on your TV

If you have a smart TV or use streaming devices, they may be collecting data for advertisers about what you watch. Here’s how to stop the data collection on some of the more popular brands.


On your Xbox go to System —> Settings —> Account —> Privacy and Online Safety —> App Privacy —> General —> Enable Advertising ID —> Uncheck.

Amazon Firestick

On your TV go to Settings —> Preferences —> Privacy Settings —> Interest-Based Ads —> Off.

Apple TV

On your Apple TV go to Settings —> General —> Privacy —> Limit Ad Tracking —> On.

Samsung TV

Go to Settings —> Support —> Terms & Policies —> Internet-Based Advertising —> Off.


On your Roku dashboard go to Settings —> Privacy —> Advertising —> Limit Ad Tracking.

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How to opt out of phone app tracking

Did you know that some apps track other apps you use? It’s true. For example, TikTok tracks what other apps you have on your phone to help it present you with better ads and its “For You” page. Here’s how to stop them and other apps that also track.


On iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later, there is a feature called App Tracking Transparency; apps must ask if they have your permission to track. When this notification pops up on your phone, just tap “Ask App Not to Track.” You can also go to Settings —> Privacy —> Tracking to turn off tracking permissions for each app.


With Android phones, you can delete your advertising ID to prevent apps from tracking you. Just go to Settings —> Google —> Ads. Then tap the “Delete Advertising ID” button and tap it again to confirm that you want to delete it.

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How to opt out of getting junk mail

The Direct Marketing Association wants you to receive lots of junk mail, because it’s good for their members who are hoping to sell you something. But they are also your first stop when you want to pare down your mail. Visit the DMA to sign up for its do-not-mail service, which costs $2 for 10 years. It won’t opt you out of all junk mail though—only the mail sent by the 3,600 companies it works with—but it’s a good start.

You can also call the company’s customer service line (212-768-7277) to request to be taken off their mailing list. You can also try sending them an email, but beware: They may add your email address to their online mailing list. You may also want to know how to stop spam calls for good.

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How to opt out of all credit card and insurance offers

If you’re like many people, you probably get at least one credit card or insurance offer in the mail per week. Did you know there’s a permanent way to opt out of all of them? The first step is to go to optoutprescreen.com or call 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688). Next, request a Permanent Opt-Out Election form. When you get it in the mail, fill it out and send it back. It will opt you out of these offers for good.

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How to opt out of spam emails

Who has time to go through every email and hit “unsubscribe”? Not you, that’s for sure. Make it easy by enlisting the DMA again. By registering with its Email Preference Service, you can delete your name from companies’ lists with the click of a button. You might still get email blasts from local businesses, political parties and alumni associations, but opting out through the DMA will leave your inbox relatively clutter-free.

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How to opt out of text messages from companies

The easiest way to opt out of text messages from companies is by replying with the word “STOP.” Beware though: Some companies will reply asking you to confirm that you want to stop text messages. Be sure to confirm or they will just keep sending you texts. Also, beware of these phishing texts.


Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford is a technology and internet safety and security expert for SafeWise.com and has contributed her insights to dozens of national publications, both in print and online. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying, one article at a time.