Is your mailbox clogged with “pre-approved” credit card offers, catalogs from stores you’ve never heard of, and pages and pages (and pages) of coupons? Don’t waste any more time sorting through unwanted mail. Follow these steps to stop junk mail from piling up, and say “hello” to a clutter-free mailbox in no time.
1. Remove Your Name From Pre-Approved Credit Card Lists
The four major credit reporting companies currently offer a free service to help you reduce the number of pre-approved credit and insurance offers you receive. It’s easy to participate: Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or go to www.optoutprescreen.com. You will need to provide your name, address, phone number, and date of birth (you’ll be asked for your social security number but it’s not necessary). You’ll also need to choose whether to opt out for five years or permanently. But don’t worry, if you change your mind down the road, you can always opt in at any time at the same number or website.
2. Unsubscribe From Unwanted Catalogs
Reducing the number of unwanted catalogs you receive is easy, thanks to Catalog Choice, a free service that allows you to unsubscribe from multiple catalogs at one time and in one place. Go to www.catalogchoice.org and click on the “Get Started” link on the home page to set up an account. You’ll then be able to search the Catalog Choice database for each catalog you would like to stop receiving (having the customer number and the source or key code from the back cover of your catalog is ideal but not necessary). The folks at Catalog Choice do all the legwork, contacting the company in question and removing your name and address from their mailing list.
If your catalog is not included in the Catalog Choice database, or you have only one or two catalogs to unsubscribe from, you may choose to contact each company yourself. Call the customer service number provided in the catalog, and ask to be removed from their mailing list. Again, having your customer number and source or key code handy can speed up the process. Also, be sure to provide your name and address exactly as it appears on the catalog.
3. Register With the DMA’s Mail Preference Service
The Direct Marketing Association is a trade association of business and non-profit organizations that use direct marketing. The DMA compiles mailing lists and provides them to their members. To help consumers, the DMA has created “DMAchoice,” an online tool that can substantially reduce the amount of direct mail you receive. DMAchoice makes it easy to control exactly what types of direct mail you get, if any. Learn more and register at www.dmachoice.org.
4. Odds and Ends
Once you’ve completed steps one through three, you should notice a big decrease in the amount of junk mail you receive. However, some unwanted mail may slip through the cracks, including items from organizations that are not DMA members, and advertisements and solicitations from local merchants, charities, and political organizations. There are a couple of ways to address this.
You can contact individual mailing list brokers (organizations that compile and sell mailing lists). This can mean calling, emailing, writing a letter, or filling out a form online. There are many list brokers out there who sell your info to direct marketers. Googling “get off mailing lists” or “stop junk mail” may help you find them, or go to www.ecofuture.org for a comprehensive list.
Another way to whittle down your junk mail is to attack each piece of unwanted mail individually. Look for a phone number, email address, or website on the letter or advertisement. Contact the organization directly, and politely ask to be removed from their mailing list. For books of coupons, look on the packaging for the name of the company that publishes them. Call the phone number, if provided, or Google the name and see what you come up with (one national mailer, Valpak, makes it easy to unsubscribe from their list at www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm). Though this process can be tedious, tackling each piece of unwanted mail as it arrives can make it manageable.