How to Stop Junk Mail in 8 Easy Steps
Michelle Wilson - October 28, 2021
Junk mail is an overwhelming annoyance, but one that we’ve gotten used to. After all, hasn’t junk mail been around forever? It’s just a part of our daily life by this point. However, when we stop to think about it, junk mail isn’t just a harmless nuisance. For one thing, junk mail often contains a lot of personal information. How did these companies get your address and name, for instance?
Then, of course, we have to consider that junk mail is extremely wasteful. After all, junk mail is produced by cutting down trees, and the more junk mail that’s produced, the more trees that are cut, which negatively impacts the environment. In fact, it’s estimated that over 100 million trees are used each year to create the paper for junk mail. When you consider that global deforestation is responsible for almost 20% of all carbon emissions (the leading cause of global warming), it’s easy to see how junk mail is a significant contributor to the planet’s destruction.
Fortunately, you don’t have to lay back and accept junk mail is inevitable. There are things you can do. Read on to find out how to stop receiving junk mail for the rest of the time.
Say No to Credit Card and Insurance Offers
One of the bigger culprits of junk mail is offers for new credit cards or insurance. However, you don’t have to just sit back and passively receive these offers. Instead, just like robocalls, the Federal Trade Commission allows you to opt out for either five years or forever.
To opt out of receiving credit card and insurance offers for five years, you’ll need to call the toll-free number, 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688), or visit the website www.optoutprescreen.com.
To permanently opt out, you will have to go through an opt-out process. You can start this process online at www.optoutprescreen.com. However, to complete the process, you’ll need to return a signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form. You’ll receive this form after initiating the online request.
Be prepared to provide some personal information when you call or visit the website, such as your name, home telephone number, Social Security number, and date of birth. However, you can rest assured that this information will remain confidential and will only be used to process your opt-out request.
However, this might not necessarily stop junk mail from your actual credit card provider. To stop mail from a credit card company you use, you may need to make a verbal or written request that they take you off their mailing list. In other words, you’ll need to contact them directly and ask that they stop sending you mail. Furthermore, you should request that your information only be used by their company and not given to other companies.
Opt-Out of Prescreened Offers by Mail
If you don’t have internet access, you can still opt out of prescreened offers; however, you’ll need to do so through the mail. This means writing to each of the major consumer reporting companies. In your request, you’ll need to provide personal information, including your name, home telephone number, date of birth, and Social Security number.
The addresses for the major reporting companies are as follows:
- P.O. Box 919
- Allen, TX 75013
- Name Removal Option
- P.O. Box 505
- Woodlyn, PA 19094
- P.O. Box 740123
- Atlanta, GA 30374
Innovis Consumer Assistance
- P.O. Box 495
- Pittsburgh, PA 15230
The company Direct Mail provides a free, opt-out service that you can access online. Through this service, you can indicate what, if any, mailings you want to receive from the provided list. You will then receive an email from Direct Mail every six months offering you the opportunity to review and update your preferences.
However, it’s important to note that Direct Mail doesn’t guarantee that they can remove your name from all the mailing lists on which it appears.
Most times, when you place an order from a catalog, the catalog will give your name and address to Abacus. Abacus is an alliance of catalog and publishing companies. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to remove your information from Abacus. All you have to do is contact them with your name (including any middle initial), your current address, and your previous address if you recently moved. You can reach Abacus through email (email@example.com) or by mail (Abacus, Inc. P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80038). Additionally, they have a website where you can get your name taken off some, but not all, of their catalogs.
Furthermore, there is a service called CatalogChoice. This free service lets you cancel specific catalogs and other forms of paper mail.
Additionally, if you’re receiving the same catalogs over and over again, you can contact them directly and ask that they stop sending you mail.
One of the reasons you get junk mail is because companies that you voluntarily subscribe to rent your name and address to other companies. However, when you subscribe to a magazine, make a donation, or join a group, you can specifically ask that your information not be given away. Of course, they may ignore this request, so it’s best to contact them directly a few weeks later to make a more direct request.
It’s one thing to make a charitable donation that you can feel good about, but the good feeling may start wearing thin when the charity makes repeated requests for additional donations. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it.
The first thing to do to stop additional requests for donations is to enclose a note with your donation asking that the organization not rent, sell, or exchange your personal information to other organizations.
The next thing you can do is to ask the company to decrease the frequency of its mailings. Lastly, if you no longer want to support a charity, you can request that they remove your name from their mailing lists.
If you receive junk mail addressed to “resident,” “current resident,” or “current occupant.” Or if the envelope says “return service requested,” “forwarding service requested,” “change service requested,” or “address service requested,” you can write “Refused: Return to Sender” on the envelope and put them back in your mailbox. This will force the USPS to return it, and most businesses who get their mail back in this way will remove you from their mailing list instead of wasting their money on you.
You can also opt out of receiving mail through DMA, a direct marketing company. DMA is one of the foremost mailing list providers that companies purchase addresses from. Therefore, there’s a good chance they are responsible for some of the junk mail you receive.
Unlike other direct mail companies, however, they charge a $2 handling fee for their online opt-out service, and they charge $3 if you choose to opt-out through the mail. However, it’s important to note that DMA doesn’t guarantee that they will remove your name from all mailing lists.
Receiving junk mail means that a large marketing corporation knows your name and address. While this may seem relatively harmless, you never know who they could sell this information to. After all, it’s because of companies selling your information that it’s relatively easy to find anyone’s home address.
Furthermore, junk mail produces more than 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year. This is the equivalent of 9 million passenger cars. So, therefore, by putting a stop to junk mail, you’re not only stopping a nuisance piece of mail, but you’re also helping to conserve the environment.
Therefore, to protect yourself and the environment, you should take the time and make an effort to stop receiving junk mail.