Things To Do on a Lazy Sunday: Stop Junk Mail!
Written by Dane Jasper
March 2, 2008 | 3 min read
Junk postal mail has a big impact on the environment, particularly catalogs. They’re also a nuisance and a distraction. Reducing recurring junk postal mail is easy, and the time invested pays big dividends. There are quick and easy ways to reduce your mail flow. Here are resources to get you started:
Step one: Remove your name from specific catalog lists at no charge by using CatalogChoice.org. Or, phone the toll free number printed in each catalog and request removal. Once you’ve registered with CatalogChoice, it’s easy to add catalogs as they arrive. (edit: Per this article, it seems that the Direct Marketing Association has instructed it’s members to ignore CatalogChoice. That stinks.)
Step two: The Direct Marketing Association is the largest provider of direct mail lists. The DMA’s mail preference service lets you opt out. Visit DMAChoice.org to register. The only catch: you must provide a credit card number to validate that you’re real. The DMA is as reputable an organization as bulk mailers can be, and it should be fine to give them this data. You can also register by mail for a $1 fee. The DMA will also remove you from some email SPAM lists via their email preference registration service.
Step three: Opt out of credit card offers. Visit OptOutPreScreen.com to register. This site is run by the four major credit reporting entities, and allows you to get rid of those annoying “you’ve been approved for a new card” offers. You will need to provide personal data, including your SSN to opt out. Again, these four are the keepers of SSN credit info, so it’s as safe as possible. If you prefer, you can also do this by phone by calling 1-888-567-8688.
Step four: Get your number off telemarketing lists. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) popular National Do Not Call Registry allows you to stop telemarketers. Certain fund raising calls are still allowed, for example non-profits and political groups. All telemarketers are required to stop calling 31 days after you register your numbers. Visit DoNotCall.gov to register. You can learn more about the registry in the FAQ here.
Step five: Call Publishers Clearinghouse and tell them that you do NOT want to be a winner! 1-800-645-9242. I suppose this choice could cost you millions, but the odds are that it won’t.
Step six: Call ValPak Coupons and ask them to take you off their list. Unless you like those annoying little blue envelopes. 1-800-237-6266.
Step seven: Advo/Valassis provides a web form that you can use to stop the Advo mailer. This is the big bundle of color newsprint materials that really clutters up your mailbox, along with the white postcard with the blue text which tells the post office where to deliver it.
Step eight: Call or write to Harte Hanks if you’re getting their “Penny Saver” circular. They can be reached at 1-800-422-4116. Unfortunately, they don’t accept requests via the web, so you can either call them or visit their site to obtain their postal address and send them a letter.
Step nine: When you do business with companies, tell them not to sell your information! In particular, make note when your bank sends you information about their privacy and opt-out policy. You may need to fill out a form to ask them not to sell your financial information! (To answer the obvious question, no, of course Sonic.net never shares customer information with anyone!)
It takes three or four months for the flow of junk to slow to a trickle. I hope this info helps you reduce the clutter in your real world inbox.