Getting Rid of Junk Mail

Wish there was a way to tell the post office to stop delivering junk mail? Most people do.

Here is how to get rid of it:

Direct bulk-rate mail can be annoying for a number of different reasons. Mostly because it’s usually irrelevant garbage that you don’t want. Sure, it’s made from renewable trees, but couldn’t those trees (and the landfill space) be put to better use?

If you have elderly relatives you probably know that shady mailers often target this at-risk group for misleading offers that are designed to trick them into signing up for something that they don’t really want or need.

To make matters more annoying, if you are concerned about identity theft, some mailers send out information that you then have to shred rather than recycling.That ‘Second Notice’ or ‘Final Notice’ stamp in red on the front of a piece of junk mail is a rude way of getting anyone’s attention. Yes, it gets that envelope noticed. So does yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded building.

Here are some ways to cut down on junk mail:

  1. Avoid getting on mailing lists in the first place. Don’t check the box that reads something like ‘Send me more offers’ in an online shopping cart. If you sign up for sweepstakes, online coupons, loyalty programs, magazine subscriptions, any of that, you can rest assured your information is being sold to mailing lists for the purpose of clogging up your inbox and mailbox.
  2. Right. Here we are on step 2 because some junk mail is inevitable. Unless you live under an alias and off the grid, you probably get at least some. Even moving won’t get you away from tenacious mailers as USPS licenses out the information from change of address forms for a price, and many more sophisticated advertisers can figure it out through other means anyway.

Here are a couple solutions we found, after years of stuffing our recycling bin and shredder full of “new and exciting” offers:

  • Catalogchoice.org: A free non-profit service that helps you specifically target catalogs and other printed materials you receive but don’t want. They streamline your requests with the merchants directly so that they not continue to send you their mailings. We found most merchants agree to stop of their own accord. Not every mailer will be in their system. So we did the next two options as well, to cover as many as possible.
  • DMAchoice.org: The Direct Marketing Association set up this service to allow you to opt out of mailing from their members. This can take a few months to go into effect, but takes less effort on your part to initiate. It can also be helpful for removing a deceased relative from mailings as well as a dependent you care for. Here, you can also get rid of those generic mailers addressed to the ubiquitous Mr. or Mrs. Current Resident. You can also sign up to have your email address removed from the mailing lists of their members.
  • Optoutprescreen.com: A website for stopping pre-approved credit or insurance offers. You can stop them for 5 years online, or permanently by mail.

Those options are free, and they will handle the bulk of your issues with no phone calls or spending any money. There are services you could pay to do this, but just spending an hour or two of your time to do it will get the job pretty well done.

Beyond that, if you get mail you don’t want, you can directly contact the sender and ask them to remove you from their address list. They may need information found on the mailing envelope, so have it in hand when you call.

Disclaimer: We’re not guaranteeing the efficacy of any of these mail stopping services.