How to Stop the Junk Mail Tsunami
Junk mail is a big problem for many families. For some, it totals over half the mail they receive each day. What can you do to stop junk mail from inundating your home? There are two ways you can attack this problem. The first step is to stop junk mail BEFORE it makes way to your mailbox.
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The most important thing you can do is not give out your contact information to any business. When you give out your contact information, you run the risk of being put on their mailing list. What is worse, your contact information could be sold to a clearing house that in turn sells it to thousands of other merchants. Have you ever gotten a catalog from a business you never heard of and wondered how they got your name and address? Your contact information was sold without your knowledge. Don’t give merchants your contact information and you won’t get inundated with junk mail. Use the following strategies to keep yourself off merchant mailing lists.
- Have a No Contact Policy. When ordering by phone, tell the operator not to add your name to their mailing list or to sell, rent, or trade your contact information. When placing an order online, always check the opt-out box. If there isn’t one, complete your order, and then look for the customer-service e-mail or mailing address and send a separate request.
- Kick the catalog habit. Once you place a catalog order you are added to their mailing list and will begin receiving their catalogs; in some cases every two weeks. Instead of shopping via catalog, do your shopping online whenever possible.
- Opt out from the start. Whenever you join an organization or register for a conference, tell them not to sell, trade, or rent your contact information. You can often do this by checking an “opt out” box on the registration paper or electronic form.
But what if you are already on dozens of mailing lists? The second step is to get off the junk mailing lists. Here are some resources that will help you do that.
- Get removed. To get off of mailing lists go to http://www.networkforgood.org. They offer a free service that will remove you from unwanted mass mailing lists. Look for the National Do Not Mail List link. Click on it and it will take you to a page with a form to fill out. NOTE: If you have signed up to receive offers from manufactures, such as free samples and coupons, DO NOT use this option because it will stop ALL mailings.
- Donate anonymously. If you are tired of receiving bulky calendars, address labels and greeting cards from charities but still want to support them financially, donate anonymously online at www.networkforgood.org. This group will send your donation but not your name or contact information, to organizations so you won’t end up on solicitation lists.
- Be wary of warranty cards. Companies use these cards to collect a range of personal data for marketing purposes, so read the fine print carefully before filling them out. In most cases you don’t need to return the card to activate the warranty. But if it turns out that you must, skip the lifestyle survey questions and provide only your name, address, product information, and facts about the date and the place of purchase.
- End unwanted offers. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com to be removed from the major credit bureaus’ mailing lists for preapproved credit card and insurance offers. Register online to opt out for five years or permanently by filling out a printable mail-in form. One word of caution: DO NOT give them your date of birth or social security number. This information is NOT required to process your request. Stick to the basic information necessary to process your request.
- Cancel catalogs. Visit www.catalogchoice.org, which is a site that lets you search for catalogs by name and cancel those you no longer wish to receive. If you can’t find the catalog you’re looking for, click on the “Suggest a Catalog” link at the bottom of the results page, or contact merchants directly and have them remove your name from their mailing lists. Be sure to request that they stop selling, renting, and trading your contact information. Some companies process requests via their toll-free number; others will ask you to mail your request or complete a form on their website.