Start with sending a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY Write 'Please activate the mail preference service', and include the name, address, and zip code. You must send individual postcards - the DMA wants to make this all as inconvenient as possible. The Direct Marketing Association's mail and email opt-out service. OptOutPrescreen The official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to opt-in or opt-out of offers for credit and insurance.

Junk mail: Choose the mail you want, stop the junk you don't

'Junk Mail' is advertising of one sort or another that arrives in your postal mailbox along with the mail you really want or need. It's impossible to eliminate all of it, but you can substantially reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by completing a few simple tasks.

Do-it-yourself: Stop junk mail, email and phone calls

The Dma Choice

Junk mail may seem as inevitable as death and taxes, but with a little patience there are effective ways to tackle the problem. This guide provides clear, simple and proven reduction techniques. About 20 minutes investment now will clear the junk for between two and five years.

Your name, address, and buying habits are a commodity that are regularly sold & traded on the open market. These days, virtually all organizations you deal with sell your name unless you specifically ask them to stop.

General techniques: Preventing junk mail and unwanted phone calls

Whenever you donate money, order a product or service, or fill out a warranty card, write in large letters, 'Please do not sell my name or address.' Most organizations will properly mark your name in the computer.

Product warranty cards are often used to collect information on your habits and income, for the sole purpose of targeting direct mail. They are not required in most situations - avoid sending them;

On the telephone, ask 'Please mark my account so that my name is not traded or sold to other companies.'

Your credit card company probably sells your name the most often -- keep reading their mailers for the proper way to “opt out” of their information sharing programs.

'Contests' where you fill in a little entry blank are almost always fishing expeditions for names. If you fill one out at a football game, for example, expect to get a catalog of football merchandise within a few months. Avoid these if you don't want the mail.

When a retail clerk asks for your telephone number in order to complete your purchase, remember you have the right to politely say, 'I'm sorry, I do not give out my telephone number.' Don't worry, they will still take your money. If the clerk is having trouble completing the transaction, suggest they use the telephone number 000-000-0000. This usually helps them get past the mental roadblock of not being able to enter a number.

To stop specific types of unwanted paper mail

The amount of paper junk mail sent each year in the USA is staggering -- some 4 million tons, nearly half of which is never opened. Even if you recycle there are still enormous environmental costs in terms of ink, energy to produce deliver and recycle the paper, recycling inefficiencies and loss of productive forest to create the high quality glossy paper much junk mail uses. Badly targeted junk mail helps nobody, but the industry likes to keep pumping it out.
There is a lot you can do to reduce the cost to the environment and your own time:

First class mail: Cross out the address and bar code, circle the first class postage and write 'Refused: Return to Sender.' Drop in any mail box, it will be returned to the sender.

Bulk mail: The post office throws away bulk mail it can't deliver, so returning it does no good. Bulk mail is the hardest to deal with because the USPS actively provides addresses, support and encouragement to mailers. However, if 'address correction requested' is written on the label: circle 'address correction requested' and treat like first class mail.

Sexually Oriented Advertising (SOA): The only help you'll get from the Post Office in controlling junk mail is for explicit stuff. Fill out USPS Form 1500 if you wish this type of mail to stop. You define what you find to be explicit -- if that's an automobile parts catalog the post office won't disagree with you.

Credit Offers: The major credit agencies all sell aggregate credit information any bidder. Direct mail and credit companies generate mail based on demographics including zip code, income band and credit payment patterns. Stopping this is easy. You just need your address, former address within two years, and social security number. One call does it all for agencies Equifax, Trans Union, Experian and Innovis. Dial 1-888-5 OPTOUT (or 1-888-567-8688) 24 hours a day.

Mail Preference Service Direct Marketing Association

Catalogs: Call the company's toll-free number and have the label handy. Write your instructions on the mailing label and fax it to the company. Mark 'ATTN: customer service'. Tear off the label, write your instructions on it, and enclose in the postage-paid ordering envelope. Mark envelope 'ATTN: customer service'. This method is the least effective.

AOL (America On-Line): You could pave the nation with the free discs these people send out, call 1-800-605-4297 (24 hours a day) to get off the list. Tell them your first name is 'current', last name 'resident'.

Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes: You can get the Clearinghouse to stop clogging your mailbox by contacting customer service at 1-800-645-9242 (8:30 am to 8:30 EST), sending a fax to 1-800-453-0272, mailing to 101 Channel Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050, or you can send email to [email protected] PCH will remove any number of names from a specific address, but you have to list each name exactly and insist nicely.

American Family Sweepstakes: Ed McMahon and Dick Clark will stop telling you 'You have definitely won 11 million dollars (maybe)' if you call them at 1-800-237-2400. AFP is a division of Time-Warner.

Local business & supermarket fliers: All mailings must be identified, by postal regulations. Each lose-leaf bundle of fliers, by postal regulations, must be delivered at the same time as an address card. Locate this address card; the cards usually have an advertisement and a photograph of a missing child. You may need to call directory assistance to get the phone number of the sender. Specific senders are:

ADVO (Mail comes with pictures of missing children). Call 1-860-285-6100 to get off the list. You may have to send a postcard to 'ADVO Consumer Assistance, POB 249, Windsor CT 06095-4176'; Val-Pak Coupons: click the link and copy your mailing label; and Carol Wright Call 1-800-67-TARGET to get off the list.

Most senders are professional companies which will handle your request politely. 'ADVO Mailbox Values' and 'Harte Hanks Potpourri' are the most common of these mailers. Your local supermarket's monthly coupon books may be handled by these companies, so be sure to specify if you want to continue to receive those. Your letter carrier is accustomed to giving each house a bundle, so you may also need to inform him or her of your action separately. The post office is prohibited by law from delivering unaddressed mail, so you should have little trouble convincing the carrier.

Too much junk to deal with individually: Start by sending a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643 Include your complete name, address, zip code and a request to 'activate the preference service.' For up to five years, this will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not specifically ordered products from.

The Direct Marketing Association estimates that listing with their mail preference service will stop 75% of all national mailings. They process 50,000 requests a month and requests are kept active for five years. If you fill out the post office change of address form, the DMA will track the new address (you'll get a few months of mailings to the new address before they catch up to you). It can take up to six months for your request to be fully processed. You can also opt-out online, but they charge $5. The best way is to fill out their online form, then mail them a printout.

To stop mail addressed to former residents, or a former spouse

If you rent you are probably familiar with receiving mail for a dozen or more former residents of your dwelling. Since you probably don't want any of the stuff, you can use the two techniques below:

Bulk mail for 'current resident or ...': Start with sending a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643 Write 'Please activate the mail preference service', and include the name, address, and zip code. You must send individual postcards -- the DMA wants to make this all as inconvenient as possible. The DMA will ignore requests that don't appear to be from a single individual.
First class and some bulk mail: If the former residents neglected to fill out a Post Office change of address card, or it expired, you can fill one out for them. You must fill out one card for each unique last name. Write 'Moved, Left No Forwarding Address' as the new address. Sign your own name and write 'Form filled in by current resident of the house, [Your Name], agent for the above'. You must write 'agent for the above'. Hand this form directly to your carrier, if possible, as your carrier must approve the form and see that it gets entered into the post service National Change of Address (NCOA) database. This can be very effective.

A few years ago the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set up the National Do Not Call Registry in order to stem the tide of telemarketing calls. If you don’t want any more telemarketers phoning your house while you’re eating dinner all you need to do is sign up for the Do Not Call Registry and it will stop all commercial telemarketing calls to your house for 5 years. Political and non-profit calls will still come through, but it will cut through a big part of your telemarketing program.

There is no such Do Not Mail Registry for those of us tired of picking up piles of junk mail everyday. And don’t think that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is going to be of any help: direct marketing is good for the USPS and they actively promote it. (Direct marketers still have to pay postage, after all).

So if the government is of no help, what are we to do? Well, there are some options for us to help stem the tide of junk mail.

Companies all across the country want to send you junk mail. Once just any one of these companies gets a hold of your name and address, rest assured it will soon be passed around to another company, and another company, and another. The worst of it is that usually the company responsible for first distributing your information is probably a company you do business with on a regular basis, even one you trust like your bank.

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.

Dma junk mail opt out

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.


Direct Marketing Association Mailing Address

If you want to find out more about the DMA’s Mail Preference Service check out their web site at

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.

Mail Preference Service Direct Marketing Association Carmel Ny

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
1-800-453-0272 (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

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.

Mail Preference Service Direct Marketing Association


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.

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