Everyone loves to receive a thoughtful letter, but junk mail is a totally different beast. According to the EPA, over half of unsolicited mail goes straight to the dump. It takes over 100 million trees to print all those unwanted mailings, and the average American spends 8 months of their lives opening and sorting junk mail. Not only is junk mail bad for the environment, prescreened or preapproved credit card applications put you at risk for identity theft. That will waste even more of your time and resources! Here are some easy and free tips to stop junk mail from being sent to your house or office.
Reduce Unwanted Junk Mail
Think about the types of junk mail you would like to prevent, and browse through the options below. The majority of them are free, and all of them only take a few minutes. Take back your mailbox — and your precious time!
Stop Prescreened Credit Card and Insurance Applications
Your first priority should be getting rid of those unsolicited credit card applications and insurance offers. Sure, the promise of easy credit is a temptation for consumers, but they’re a jackpot for identity thieves. stop junk mail by stopping the flow of preapproved credit card applications and prescreened insurance offers and you’ll be a long way toward your goal of an uncluttered mailbox. The four major consumer credit reporting companies have created a central website to stop these offers. Visit optoutprescreen.com and click to opt out. You’ll need to complete a form asking for personal information, including your social security number. That type of request raised a red flag for me, as I’m sure it does for you. But this site is the real deal and endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can trust this is the best and easiest way to stop receiving all those unwanted applications!
Opt Out of Yellow Pages
There was a time when phone books and yellow pages were essential for any home. But times change, and these hefty books have been replaced by the internet. Yet for many of us, these bulky phonebooks just keep showing up. Sometimes, when an item has outlived its usefulness, it’s time to say goodbye.
You can stop junk mail by opting out of receiving yellow pages at yellowpagesoptout.com. You’ll need to type in your zip code, but it should give you the right list of local directories. You may need a new source of paper for your papier-mâché, but at least you’ll stop receiving unwanted phonebooks!
Stop Unwanted Catalogs
Catalogs can be fun to browse, but they can also be a nuisance. Because they’re such a cheap form of marketing, companies love to send them out. People received nearly 10 billion catalogs in 2016, and the number is rising. For people who want them, that’s fine, but the rest goes right to the landfill. Save your mail carrier some weight lifting and stop receiving unwanted catalogs.
You have two major options for opting out of catalogs. The first is contacting Epsilon, the company that maintains Abacus, a huge marketing database used for the majority of catalog mailings. If you opt out through them, it’s all or nothing. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address, along with a request to opt out. They’ll still keep your information, but it will be marked so they know not to add you again or send you anything.
If you don’t want to give up your favorite catalogs—and who could blame you?—there’s another free option. Catalog Choice allows you to choose which catalogs you want and opt out of the rest. This is a win for everyone because companies save money, and because you only get the catalogs you really want.
Keep in mind, there are catalogs not associated with these lists, and companies aren’t legally required to stop sending you anything at their request. If you continue receiving a catalog after some time has passed, it’s suggested you contact that publication directly and ask that your name be taken off their list. That should cover all your catalog bases!
Receive Fewer Charity Mailings
Supporting charities is an honorable thing to do, and we’re all happy to support our causes of choice. But sometimes a donation brings with it more junk mail. You can’t blame a charity for raising funds, but you’re within your rights to let them know your preference.
To receive fewer mailings from an organization, you just have to let them know. Some junk mail experts recommend sending a note along with your donation, asking the charity not to share your personal information or giving history with anyone else. You can also let them know that you would prefer not to receive any mailings, or would like to receive only an annual update. If necessary, let them know any future contributions on your part depend on them honoring your request. And if you’re receiving mail from an organization you don’t support, contact them and ask to be taken off their list.
Get Out of Sweepstakes
Sweepstakes are a huge source of junk mail. Considering you are more likely to win the lottery than a mail-in sweepstakes, you’re probably safe just saying “Stop!” To remove yourself from the Publisher’s Clearing House list, fill out this form. It’s suggested that you email Reader’s Digest directly at email@example.com to opt-out of their sweepstakes. For other legitimate sweepstakes, contact the organization and ask to be removed from their list.
Stop Receiving Coupons
You probably receive large coupon mailers. If you don’t want them, you can opt out. For Money Mailer, email your name and address to ListContactManager@moneymailer.com, with a request to be taken off their list. RetailMeNot Everyday (RedPlum) has a form on their website to stop unwanted mail, and Valpak has a similar opt out form. Contacting the coupon vendor who serves your area will save you a lot of unwanted junk mail!
The Big Junk Mail Opt Out
Here are two resources that should help you control what mail you receive and eliminate most junk mail. The National Do Not Mail List at DirectMail.com is free and lets you adjust your mail preferences. This site looks older, but I have checked them out through several sources and they are legitimate.
The other option is a paid service, and this link is not considered an endorsement. DMAchoice gives you increased control over the mail you receive for 10 years. The cost is a $2 processing fee. This allows you to opt out of mail from specific companies or from entire categories of junk mail.
If you still receive junk mail after all of that, write “Return to Sender: Recipient Moved” on the envelope and send it back through the mail.
Stop Receiving Junk Mail for a Deceased Individual
Receiving junk mail addressed to a deceased person can be distressing. To stop most of it, the Data & Marketing Association has a free service that will stop DMA members from attempting contact by phone, email, or traditional mail. They make this list available to other nonmember marketers as well, so that they can remove the name from their lists. The form is found here.
For non-junk mail, like magazines, contact the organization directly and inform them. Magazines will often issue a refund for any unused part of the subscription, and other entities will stop sending mail as requested. If you continue to receive unwanted mail addressed to the deceased, write “Deceased, Return to Sender” and leave it in your mailbox or another outgoing mail receptacle.
Best of Luck Reducing Your Junk Mail!
Hopefully you found some great resources to stop junk mail and limit the amount of unwanted mail you receive. If you’d like to go even further, you can change your bills and magazine subscriptions to digital delivery. And don’t share your personal information if you can avoid it. That includes unnecessary warranty cards, sweepstakes, and reward cards. Only give out your information to those you trust, and only when you think it’s worth it. That way you can save a few trees, keep more trash out of the landfill, and give yourself more free time.