Sunday, August 12, 2007

Junk the junk mail

I read this informative article by Alyson Ward of Fort Worth, Texas, this morning in the newspaper and wanted to share it here. I hope it's useful to you as well.

Junk mail. Piles of it. In your mailbox, every day. You don't want it. Most of the time, you didn't ask for it. But when it arrives, you have to "do" something with it.

The direct marketing association maintains lists of addresses for advertising mail. Companies that are DMA members are required to use the "do not mail" lists that purge your name from the system at your request. (Note: this will cost you $1, whether you do it online for by mail.)
Get off the list:
Or send you address and request (include $1 check payable to the Direct Marketing Association) to:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 282
Carmel, NY 10512

as a backup, contact these other big direct-marketing mailers (there is no charge for these):
Donnelly Marketing -- send a removal request to: Opt Out, Donnelly Marketing, Database Operations, 416 S. Bell Ave., Ames, IA 50010. Remember to enclose your full name (including middle initial) and address.
Equifax -- get off the list 800-873-7655
Esperian Marketing Solutions -- get off the list 888-246-2804
Acxiom -- get off the list, click "contact us" and select the "U.S. Consumer Opt Out" form.

If you're not shopping for a new credit card, opt out of those pre-approved offers. If you don't want them, they're useless -- and they can be a great tool for identity thieves.
Get off the list: go to or call 888-567-8688

Here's the thing about catalogs. Most of the time, you receive them because you have a relationship with that company -- so they didn't purchase your name on a list.
Get off the list: Start by calling the customer service number when you receive a catalog. Have the catalog handy, because you'll probably need information that's on the mailing label.
Abacus Inc. is a company that compiles a database of catalog customers.
Get off the list: got to and click "Privacy." Choose "Opt Out" for a list of instructions.

You know how it is: You make a donation, and suddenly your box is filled with pleas (and free labels) from a dozen other nonprofits.
Get off the list: When you make a donation, look for a box to check that indicates you don't want your information to be shared or sold. If there's not an option of that sort, then attach a note with your donation:
"Please do not sell, rent, trade or lease my personal information."

A lot of circulars and fliers are addressed to "Resident" or "Occupant." It'll be hard getting rid of these, because even if you opt out, the post office is likely to keep delivering them.
Shopwise mailers are sent out weekly, accompanied by an address card (usually addressed to "current resident") with a photo of a missing child.
Get off the list: For removal from the list for five years, go to
Val-Pack coupons arrive in a blue envelope, often addressed to "Resident."
Get off the list: (click "Contact us" and follow the link at the bottom to the Mailing Address Removal Request).

You may already be a winner.
Get off the list: Contact the following major sweepstakes companies:
Publishers Clearinghouse 800-645-9242
Reader's Digest Sweepstakes 800-310-6261

Yes, there are companies that offer to help you get a handle on your junk-mail problem. The convenience my be worth the cost to you -- just be sure to read the fine print to find out exactly how much convenience you're promised. --- Cost $36 a year. They contact direct-mail companies for you, requesting your removal from marketing lists. For requests that require a signature, you'll get a stack of postcards to sign and pop in the mail. Plus, greendimes will plant one tree on your behalf each month. --- Cost $41 for five years. This company chose its name because the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. They vow to stop the majority of it by contacting companies on your behalf. You'll get preaddressed postcards to mail for requests that require signatures. And the company donates more than one-third of your fee to an environmental or community group of your choise. --- Cost $19.95 a year. This company offers you the use of its junk-mail removal software; when you get unwanted mail, you fill out the information and file your removal request through this site. One tree is planted on your behalf when you subscribe.

Contact the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse at This nonprofit group's web site offers plenty of solutions for protecting your privacy and personal information. From the main page, click on "Sample Letters" to find the proper wording for your opt-out requests.