So much of our daily business happens online that the material in the physical mailbox, aka snail mail, is now mostly ads, catalogs and credit card offers. Unwanted mail creates valid concerns about identity theft, the impact on the environment, and the time wasted retrieving and trashing useless paper. Caregivers, home care aides and loved ones can all benefit from these five tips for reducing or eliminating junk mail from snail mail.
Direct ‘Junk’ Mail
For just $2 for the next ten years, you can remove your name from the database that a huge majority of direct marketers use to send their ads, solicitations and offers. Register here with DMAChoice.org and after 90 days, the flow of unwanted magazine offers, product offers, and charitable donation requests will trickle away. You can select all direct mail, some kinds of direct mail, mail addressed to a deceased person, and even mail addressed to someone for whom you are a caregiver.
Credit Card Offers
These offers are one of the ways identity thieves steal your name, credit and money. And they seem to come in floods, no matter what kind of credit you have, because there’s a card for everyone, it seems. OptOutPrescreen.com is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website that accepts and processes requests from consumers who want to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance. Using this form, you can opt-out forever, opt-in (usually after having opted-out forever), or opt-out for five years. The site will ask you for personal info like your name, address, Social Security Number, and date of birth. Your SSN and DOB are not required to make the request, but giving that info increases the chances of a successful shut down. If you’re not comfortable doing that online, you can call 1-888-567-8688 to make the request by phone.
The DMAChoice.org service mentioned above can also take you off the list that retailers use to send their catalogs to potential customers. Sadly, if you’ve ever bought something from a catalog sender, they own your information and you have to ask them specifically to stop sending you catalogs. If you never want to see a catalog again, contact Epsilon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Epsilon, Attention: Privacy, P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80038 to request that they remove you from their marketing database. Be aware, though that removing yourself from their list means you’ll get no catalogs, even ones you might want. You can also remove a deceased relative from their lists by calling (888) 780-3869.
Chances are good that you have a charity of choice, to which you donate on your own terms. Once you’re on a charity’s mailing list, though, you will receive every solicitation mailing they send out – which seems like a big waste of the money you’ve already given them! You can contact them directly and ask that they send you one mailing per year, which will limit the money they waste reaching out to you all year long. You can also ask them – in writing for best chances of success – to not sell, rent or exchange your name, address, and donation history with any other organization. This is a way that non-profits make money, but it causes you a lot of grief and unwanted mail.
Local Direct Mail
There are list brokers and direct mail companies that don’t use the DMAChoice.org service. To prevent them from sending you mail, you’ll need to contact them directly and individually. You can reach Valpak here or at Valpak, 1 Valpak Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33716. You can unsubscribe from the RedPlum publication here or at Valassis Direct Mail, Inc., Consumer Assistance, PO Box 249, Windsor , CT 06095. Here’s the best advice from Ecocycle.org for how to write your ‘remove me now!’ letter: “If you prefer to go the snail mail route in removal, cut and paste actual mailing labels onto a sheet, make copies, add your signature beside each name variation on each sheet, and send them off to each of the 5 addresses below. Indicate the following: ‘Please remove my name and address from your mailing lists and do not rent, sell or trade my name or address.’”
Junk mail of all kinds is wasteful, environmentally unsound and a big risk for identity theft. Caregivers, home care aides and seniors can use these five tips to stop the insanity of snail mail no one wants, needs or reads.