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I use Catalog Choice to unsubscribe from catalogs. However, I'm not sure how to stop receiving other junkmail and circulars that routinely come in the mail, such as ValPak coupons, ClipperMagazine, and also solicitations from utilities companies that I don't subscribe to that are vying for my business. Any idea on how I can opt out of this junkmail?

To clarify I live in the Chicagoland area in the US.

(At least the weekly newspaper circular is useful as fireplace kindling.)

  • 4
    Where in the world are you? The answer might depend. – gerrit Feb 6 '13 at 10:44
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First, in case you aren't already aware, Catalog Choice offers something they call MailStop Shield. Here's how they describe it:

MailStop Shield opts you out of the marketing lists that data brokers share with companies you have not done business with, which reduces unwanted advertising mail. We resubmit your data broker opt-outs on a regular basis to ensure your name and address stay off the lists being shared. We will also continue to add new data brokers to our lists.

Here are other options you can do yourself:

The Direct Marketing Association

If you want to cut out a lot of the junk mail coming to your house in one blow, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is the way to go. It's not a federal program like the Do Not Call Registry but most reputable direct marketers belong to the DMA, and they offer an opt-out service to you, the consumer. You fill out a form with the DMA, then they compile a list of those who do not wish to receive unsolicited mail and send it to client companies who order these lists.

There are three ways to register with the DMA's opt-out service: you can simply send a post card with your name and address to:

Mail Preference Service Direct Marketing Association PO Box 643 Carmel, NY 10512

Your name will be added to the list. However this can take about a month to process with the DMA, as well as time for it to feed out to their client organizations.

There is also a form provided on their web site that you can fill out and mail in to the same address as above. Filling out the form online gives it a unique tracking number that enables them to process the request faster than if you just send in a post card.

Lastly you can fill out the online form and submit it online. This processes your application immediately and should result in the flow of junk mail slowing within a period of about 1 month.

If you want to find out more about the DMA's Mail Preference Service check out their web site at http://www.dmaconsumers.org

Opt-out of Junk Mail With Individual Companies

Not every company works in conjunction with the DMA's Mail Preference Service that allows for mass opt-out. However, many companies do provide forms to fill out so that you don't appear in the lists for their junk mail or to have your address distributed by them. Even if they don't have forms or a proper method in place you can still contact them either through their web site, snail mail or calling customer service and get something sorted out.

While the idea that we, the consumer, should have to go the extra mile in order to ensure that our names and addresses are not sold from here to Timbuktu and that we not receive unsolicited mail is ridiculous, but unfortunately it is also a fact of life. At least until tougher laws are passed and tighter regulations enforced on the direct marketing industry.

The place to start individual opting out are businesses that you are in regular contact with. Your bank is a prime target. Also anytime a store asks you for your name and address, ask them what they do with the information and what you need to do to make sure it is not used to send junk mail to your house. Opt-out before they even have a chance to opt you in involuntarily.

Here is an example of what I am talking about: in the summer of 2005 I went to a major furniture chain to purchase a freezer. When I made the purchase, they wanted information such as my name and address. I asked them what they would be using the information for and reluctantly they told me it would be used to send solicitations from them to my house.

I told them I did not want any junk mail coming to my house. They said ok, and before I left I fill out a three page form saying that I wanted no unsolicited mail from them coming to my house. All well and good, or so I thought. Then, a couple of months later they sent me a flyer.

I called them, quite upset. After all the trouble I had gone through to fill out the forms so I would get no mail, I still got it in my mailbox. After some arguing with the manager I got him to take my name off the list, and since then I have not received any junk mail from them.

Opt-out Telephone Numbers and Addresses

Here now we will look at contact information for a few businesses that engage in direct marketing. One of the worst types of junk mail are the constant credit card applications coming every day. These junk mailings are for the most part the work of three companies: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax, the big three credit reporting companies.

These three companies are the ones responsible for compiling all of the data that goes into creating your credit score. They are also to blame for the majority of credit card applications sent to your house. If you want these to stop, there is one simple telephone number you can call:

1-888-5OPTOUT or 1-888-567-8688

This will stop you from receiving junk mail from any of the big three credit reporting companies and should also stop the majority of the credit card applications coming your way.

Below are the addresses of many of the worst culprits in sending junk mail. Write them and tell them that you wish to opt-out.

Publishing Clearinghouse Sweepstakes 101 Channel Dr Port Washington, NY 11050 1-800-645-9242 1-800-453-0272 (fax)

American Business information inc. Attn: Product Quality PO Box 27347 Omaha, NE 68127

Donnelly Marketing, inc Attn: Data Base Operations PO Box 3502 Ames, IA 50010-3502 888-633-4402

Haines and Company, inc. Criss-Cross Directory Attn: Director of Data Processing 8050 Freedom Ave NW Canton, OH 44720

This is just a few of the worst offenders. There are many others out there.

The USPS and Form 1500

Although for the most part the USPS is not at all interested in assisting you to stop or opt-out of junk mail, they do have one resource available to you, the consumer: Form 1500. This form is designed to stop explicit and pornographic material from being sent to your home.

You pick up the form from the post office (you can also find it online) fill it out and can stop all mail from being delivered to you coming from a certain company. While this is generally supposed to refer only to explicit and pornographic materials, the onus is on you for determining what is explicit and pornographic. If there is a single company that is really bothering you this might be the way to go in getting it stopped in short order.

From "How to Opt-Out of Junk Mail Coming to Your House" by Allen Butler

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In The Netherlands, we can put a sticker on our mailbox. One states No/No, which means you don't want to receive unsollicited mail and also not the non-subscription local newspaper. The other states No/Yes, indicating you do wish to receive the latter.

There is agreement with the marketing companies and the people who deliver the mail to respect this wish. It works perfectly!

  • In my experience self-employed people like painters, chimney sweeps and windows washers do not respect a No/No and No/Yes sticker. Also you need to fill out a special form to stop receiving your local phonebook and yellow pages directory (Gouden Gids) – THelper Apr 9 '17 at 5:42
4

The answer depends on the region where you are. In Sweden, we don't have a system as nice as in The Netherlands (see this answer), but I simply added a big hand-written note on my door "No advertising please". It works remarkably well. Advertisers know that if many people get annoyed by their advertising, this harms their cause. Perhaps start a grassroots movement in your area where you all use such notifications and call the sender every time they ignore it; that might just help.

Whether it impacts the total amount of junkmail printed is questionable. An acquaintance lives in a village with a few hundred inhabitants where almost everybody has such a notice. The acquaintance has represented the village and tried many times to convince the sender to send less junkmail, because almost nobody in the village wants to have it. Still, they keep sending it. So ultimately, in this particular case, the notifications do help to remove junkmail from the own mailbox, but not to prevent wasteful production.

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I think it depends on the type of junk mail it is. Some circulars with a return address can probably be sent back by writing "return" in red letters all over it. (Check with your local post office about how to return mail that has been delivered to you incorrectly; don't tell them it actually bears your name.) The post office should return the mail and charge the sender, which hopefully makes them take you off their mailing list.

As for flyers and the like, maybe you can complain to the company that is listed, but I don't think you will be very successful. The youngsters that distribute this waste get paid for bringing it into as many households as possible, and are not paid for individual wishes of customers, or for respecting your "no junk mail" sticker.

1

Harte Hannks Direct Marketing and Valassis Direct Mail Inc are two major direct marketing companies you can remove yourself from. I have provided a website with .pdf that has two mail-in removal requests for the aforementioned along with 5 steps to reducing junk mail. Having recently used it for a deceased relative I know the links provided are still good. Stopwaste.org 5 Ways to Reduce Junk Mail

There is a great phone app called Paper Karma that was free and works very well for ease of use and results. One has to literally just snap a picture of the mail and more than half it recognizes the company, then click submit. It will find the offender and report back to you when you are removed. Sometimes it will ask you to choose from a list which company it is & if not shown you will need to type it in. It keeps record of everything you have submitted with results. It was free for years but alas all good things come to an end. Unfortunately it is now available for purchase for $5 a month or $20 a yr.

  • 1
    I used paperkarma for years and loved it -- it worked great for me. Unfortunately I can't currently justify the cost -- perhaps at some point in the future when I'm flooded with junkmail I'll pay for a year. – LShaver Mar 4 '18 at 17:54

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