How to Stop Junk Mail

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Junk mail is a waste of time, a waste of trees and a potential identity theft risk, so let’s put a stop to it. Here’s how to get your name off all those direct marketers’ mailing lists, so you have one less source of clutter in your life.

8 Steps to Take to Stop Junk Mail

Get Off Catalog Mailing Lists

Catalogs take up a lot of space in your mailbox and on your coffee table. Get rid of the ones you don’t want by registering for an account at DMAchoice.org. It’s a website run by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to give consumers a way to opt out of unsolicited promotional mail (referred to in the industry as prospect or prospecting mail). This includes catalogs, retail promotions, magazine offers and (some) donation requests. ANA is a non-profit organization, so they charge a $4 registration fee, to help cover their costs ($5 if you opt to mail-in your registration). Once you sign up, they’ll keep your marketing preferences on file for 10 years. Bare in mind: while this service will greatly reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you receive, it will NOT remove you from the mailing list of any company that you’ve bought from, subscribed to or donated to in the past two years.

To get off the mailing list of any catalog company that you’re no longer interested in buying from, you could call the toll-free number on the back of the catalog to make your request, but you’ll save time, if you use CatalogChoice.org. This non-profit allows you to select all the catalogs that you’d like to unsubscribe from; then, they make the request on your behalf. This is a free service, so it’s definitely worth taking advantage of.

Want all catalogs out of your mailbox for good? Then, you also need to opt out of Epsilon’s marketing databases. Their Abacus database is used by almost all catalog companies. Just fill out the Consumer Privacy Request Form on their website and select all the “do not sell”/”do not share”/”opt out” options. You’ll need to submit a separate form for each one. You can also make your request by calling the Epsilon Consumer Preference Center at 866-267-3861.

Expect it to take up to 90 days to stop receiving catalogs from a company, once you’ve made your unsubscribe request.

Put a Stop to Credit Card Offers

All of those pre-approved credit card offers that land in your mailbox create clutter and put you at risk for identity theft. Go to optoutprescreen.com to get off the list that creditors and insurance companies use to send these types of offers. You can opt out for five years or permanently. When you submit your request, all four consumer credit reporting companies will be notified. Note that this will not prevent any credit card or insurance companies that you already do business with from sending you offers. You’ll need to contact those companies directly to request that they not send you promotional mailings.

Get Off Charity Mailing Lists

Donate to one charity and suddenly you’re on the mailing list of every charity known to man. That’s great if you want a lifetime supply of free address labels, but otherwise, it’s just more junk to sort through. If you don’t want all those donation requests, start by telling any charity that you donate to that they may not rent, sell or trade your name, address or giving history. Then, work to get off the mailing list of any organization that’s already sending you mail. Have the mailer you received with you when you call. It’s likely to have a code on the mailing label or reply materials that can be used to identify whom they got your information from. Make sure they tell you which charity gave them your info, so you can call that charity up and request that your info no longer be shared.

It also doesn’t hurt to opt out of receiving donation requests at DMAchoice.org. There aren’t many charities that belong to the Association of National Advertisers, but this will take care of the ones that do.

Okay with receiving mail from the charities that you donate to, but just want to receive less of it? Call them up and tell them so. If they want to continue to receive donations from you, they should honor your request.

Get Off Of Phone, Cable, Internet Service Mailing Lists

Sick of getting promotional mail from local and national phone, cable and internet providers? Here are links to the opt-out forms for several major carriers. If you don’t see yours on the list, try doing a web search for the providers name and the phrase “opt out mail.”

  • AT&T – per their privacy policy, you must contact the AT&T residential care center at 1-800-288-2020 and request to be added to their Do Not Mail list. The website states that you must “specify each individual member of the household and each associated address to be added to the DNM list.” Requests remain in effect for three years, and do not exempt you from any direct marketing that is sent to target your neighborhood or zip code.
  • Boost Mobile – Use the Do Not Contact Request Form to opt out of mail, calls, SMS and email.
  • Cricket – Use the Customer Choices and Controls to unsubscribe from postal marketing solicitations.
  • Dish Network – Call customer service at 1-855-960-2750, and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
  • Sling – Use the Do Not Contact Request Form to opt out of mail, calls and emal.
  • Spectrum – Use the Spectrum Privacy Preferences page to submit a “do not mail” request. You can also use the form to submit “do not call,” “do not email” and do not knock requests.
  • Sprint – Customers can opt out of promotional direct mail by emailing Privacy@t-mobile.com, or calling the customer service number on your bill. You’ll need to provide the name on the account, your account number and your address.
  • T-Mobile – Log into your account, and fill out a simple form to opt out of email, phone calls, text messages and direct mail.
  • Verizon – Call 1-800-Verizon, and tell them you want to opt out of marketing-related mail. While you’re at it, tell them you’d also like to opt out of door-to-door marketing and marketing-related calls. According to their privacy policy, you may still receive mail after opting out, if they use a bulk mail service to target all the homes in a zip code.
  • Xfinity – Use this form to opt out of promotional mailings, sales calls, informational calls and door-to-door solicitations. If you’re a current customer, you can also log into your account to manage your preferences.

Opt Out of Local Junk Mail Inserts

If you don’t have any use for those local junk mail flyers that get stuffed in your mailbox, they’re easy to get rid of. Just fill out the mailing list removal form at Valpak.com and at Save.com. Note: You’ll need to submit a new request with Save every five years.

Stop Receiving Phone Books

Business phone numbers are easy to look up online these days, so having a copy of the Yellow Pages just isn’t as essential as it used to be. If you’re no longer interested in receiving phone books, you can opt out of delivery at yellowpagesoptout.com. Just enter your zip code, and the website will return a list of all the directories that are distributed in your area. Opt out of one or all of them. This is a permanent opt out, so you only have to do it once.

Canadians can opt out at delivery.yp.ca.

Remove Your Name From Political Mailing Lists

Always get hit with tons of political mail in the months leading up to an election? Since there’s no mechanism to opt out of all political mailings, you’ll need to contact each organization that’s sending you mail to ask that you be removed from their mailing list. You can do this by calling them at the phone number that they provided in their mailer, or by sending their pre-paid envelope back with a note requesting that your name be removed.

Some states allow you to opt out of political mailings when you register to vote, so be sure to look for that option the next time you update your registration.

How to Stop Mail Marked “Current Resident”

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to put a stop to all that mail that comes addressed to “current resident.” It’s just too profitable for the postal service. Your best bet is to politely ask your mailman not to put it in your box. You’ll probably still get it on their days off (since the substitute mailman won’t know your preference), but that’s still a big improvement.

If you’re really determined to make this type of mail go away, you can try contacting your local post office to make a formal request, but expect your results to vary. When you call, or stop by, ask to opt out of “Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), that’s the official name for all that mail that comes marked “current resident.”

There’s currently a petition you can sign at ZeroJunkMail.org to demand that the U.S. Postal Service offer a way to opt-out of EDDM.

Final Thoughts

Many direct mail campaigns are prepared months before they’re sent out, so you may receive a couple more promotional mailings from a company after you’ve submitted a request to have your name removed from their mailing list. Allow 90 days to see the full effect of your efforts. Some companies target specific neighborhoods or zip codes with promotions. Unfortunately, there’s no way to opt out of these “current resident” mailings, so you may still receive some communications from a business after you’ve opted out of direct mailings.

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7 Comments

  1. Here in UK, we can opt out of mail, but as a lot comes from abroad, it isn’t included in the opt out option. What I recommend to my friends is to RTS (Return to sender), or gone away. That way the sending company has to pay again for postage. Also send any envelopes they send you back with nothing in, they have to pay for that too. It does not stop clutter but boy it feels good.

  2. As long as the “current resident” and alike mail is NOT EDDM (every direct door mail) you can remove the address from a companies mailing list.
    Here’s how:
    Make your number private (*67)
    1. Contact the sender for removal – try to use “current resident” or how the mailer is actually addressed as the name. Some companies are accepting this now.
    2. If they don’t accept current resident then make up a name ex. Remove Me, Mickey Mouse, have fun with it.
    3. Now you will receive mail in the name given – call back and remove the name/address.

    1. Update:
      EDDM/ECRWSS/ECRWSH mailers can be stopped!

      Contact the company sending mailer and ask to be added to their RBNR (Rural-Boxholder-Non-Delivery-Request).

      Now keep in mind that your mail carrier will be asked to “skip” your address. So it is better to get some other neighbors together and opt out a group of addresses.

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to gather & post this wealth of info! It is tremendously helpful to reduce the level of clutter we receive in the mail. God bless!

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