Stop Junk Mail

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Junk Mail Sucks.

Junk mail's annoying doorstep solicitation is all the more aggravating because the vast majority of it becomes trash. Almost half of the 4 million tons of junk mail sent each year in the US is never even opened. It's a waste of resources. It's a waste of time.

But there's no need to freak out. There are simple, effective ways to stop the stuff for up to five years, and they only take about 20 minutes.

Stop it.

One of the easiest ways to stop an estimated 75% of junk mail is by signing up for preferential service from the Direct Marketing Association. Simply send a postcard or letter to DMA Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008 , Farmingdale NY 11735-9008 . Write, "Please activate the mail preference service," and include the name, address, and zip code. If you are trying to stop bulk mail addressed for a previous resident, you must send individual postcards -- for some strange reason, the DMA does not officially accept listings for former residents, and will ignore requests that don't appear to be from a single individual. If you yourself have a change of address, the DMA will track the new address when you fill out the post office change of address form. (You'll get a few months of mailings to the new address before they catch up to you.) For up to five years, the DMA will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not specifically ordered products from. This option may stop catalogs and promotions you would have liked to receive. Since the DMA process 50,000 requests a month It can take up to six months for your request to be fully processed.

Prevent it.

  •  Several of the organizations that we deal with give our information to other organizations, resulting in junk mail. Here are some general techniques to keep in mind:
  • Whenever you donate money, order a product or service, or fill out a warranty card, write in large letters, "Please do not sell my name or address". Most organizations will properly mark your name in the computer.
  • Product warranty cards are often used to collection information on your habits and income, for the sole purpose of targeting direct mail. They are not required in most situations - avoid sending them.
  • On telephone, ask "Please mark my account so that my name is not traded or sold to other companies".
  • Your credit card company probably sells your name the most often. Call them and ask them to stop.
  • "Contests" where you fill in a little entry blank are almost always fishing expeditions for names. If you fill one out at a football game, for example, expect to get a catalog of football merchandise within a few months. Avoid these if you don't want the mail.
  • Select a false middle name or initial for each charity or business you deal with. Keep track of which letter goes with which organization. You can also select a false road designator, "avenue, place, circle, street, highway, parkway, etc.". This step can be very revealing. Some guides recommend changing the spelling of your name, but this can lead to duplicate mailings.

The Specifics

  First class mail: Cross out the address and bar code, circle the first class postage and write "refused: return to sender". Drop in any mail box, it will be returned to the sender.

Bulk mail: The post office throws away bulk mail it can't deliver, so returning it does no good. Bulk mail is the hardest to deal with because the USPS actively provides addresses, support and encouragement to mailers. However, if "address correction requested" is written on the label: circle "address correction requested" and treat like first class mail.

Sexually Oriented Advertising (SOA):The only help you'll get from the Post Office in controlling junk mail is for explicit stuff. Fill out USPS form 1500 if you wish this type of mail to stop. You define what you find to be explicit -- if that's an automobile parts catalog the post office won't disagree with you.

Credit offers: The major credit agencies all sell aggregate credit information to any bidder. Stopping this is easy, you just need your address, former address within two years, and social security number. One call does it all for agencies Equifax, Trans Union, Experian and Innovis. Dial 1-888-5 OPT OUT (or 1-888-567-8688 ) 24 hours a day.

Catalogs: You can simply call the company's 800 number (have the label handy). Or, write "Please remove from mailing list," on the mailing label and fax it to the company (mark "ATTN: customer service"). You could also tear off the label, write your instructions on it, and enclose in the postage-paid ordering envelope marked "ATTN: customer service," however, this method is the least effective.

Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes: Contact customer service at 1-800-645-9242 (8:30 am to 8:30 EST), send a fax to 1-800-453-0272, mail to 101 Channel Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050, or you can send email to PCH will remove any number of names from a specific address, but you have to list each name exactly and insist nicely.

American Family Sweepstakes: Just call 1-800-237-2400 . AFP is a division of Time-Warner.

Local business & supermarket fliers: All mailings must be identified by postal regulations. Each lose-leaf bundle of fliers, by postal regulations, must be delivered at the same time as an address card. Locate this address card; the cards usually have an advertisement and a photograph of a missing child. Call directory assistance to get the phone number of the sender, and call to get off the list:

ADVO (Mail comes with pictures of missing children): Call 1-860-241-6760 to get off the list. [ Click here to download removal form ]

Val-Pak Coupons: You must fax the envelope to 508-626-9925 or mail it to 1661 Worcester Rd , Framingham MA 01701 . Val-Pak may be contacted at 1-800-676-6878 .

Carol Wright: Call 1-800-67-TARGET to get off the list.

In Conclusion

Most senders are professional companies which will handle your request politely. Your local supermarket's monthly coupon books may be handled by these companies, so be sure to specify if you want to continue to receive those. Your letter carrier is accustomed to giving each house a bundle, so you may also need to inform him or her of your action separately. The post office is prohibited by law from delivering unaddressed mail, so you should have little trouble convincing the carrier.

A big thank you to and their junk mail site. For more information, visit them at this link:

If you have any ideas, questions, or comments, please feel free to call 859-334-3151 .