Along with email spam and telemarketers, many people assume that junk mail is just part of everyday life. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid having to pick up your mail only to dump half of it in the trash.
- Sign up for the Mail Preference Service. The Mail Preference Service (https://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing) is run by a major mailing list company. Similar to the do-not-call list for reducing telemarketer calls, this list reduces the amount of junk mail you’ll receive by taking your name off mailing lists. It does cost $1 to add your name, but it could be well worth it.
- Don’t sign up for offers. Stop signing yourself up for contests, raffles, or surveys. If something seems fishy, read the fine print. Many of these offers do not promise to not sell your information, so they’re a surefire way to increase your junk mail pile. Even if the company you’re signing up with does not send you junk mail directly, they will sell your information to those who will.
- Be careful shopping online. When shopping online, be sure to read privacy policies and opt-out boxes to avoid as much junk mail as possible. Some companies may sell your information; others will send you junk mail unless you check the opt-out box. Keep in mind that any company that has your address could potentially send you junk mail, so make sure they won’t before you give them your address.
- Call the companies. Most companies, especially those sending you unwanted catalogs, will be glad to remove your name from their mailing list if you ask. After all, it costs them money to produce and send a thick, glossy catalog, so they’d rather not send it to people who will just throw it away.
- Stop credit card offers. To stop receiving credit card offers, either call the credit card companies individually, call 1-888-5 OPT OUT, or fill out the opt-out form at http://www.optoutprescreen.com/, which contacts the four major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. These offers are especially important to stop because of identity theft issues. If you do want a credit card in the future, you can go straight to the company, so you don’t need this junk mail. This opt-out is good for 5 years, but you can also request a permanent opt-out.
- Return mail not addressed to you. If you are receiving mail for a previous resident of your home, or others not in your household, write ‘Not at This Address’ on the envelope, and return it to your mailbox. If it keeps happening, contact your local post office for help.
When asking companies to stop sending you junk mail, be persistent but kind. Remember that the person on the other side is not personally responsible for choosing to send you junk mail, and they will be more likely to help you if you treat them nicely. However, particularly with large companies, it can be difficult to get your name off their list if you do not follow up with them. If you keep these tips in mind, you can get rid of junk mail!