If you're wondering how to stop junk mail, here are some simple to follow instructions for many common types of this junk, so you can opt out and eliminate as much of it as possible, for free.
Along with creating a system for dealing with your mail everyday, which we're doing as part of the Create a Home Mail Organizer Center Challenge (which is part of the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge), keeping lots of junk mail from even coming into your mail box will save you lots of time.
After all, if it never even comes to you, you don't have to sort, trash or shred this stuff at all.
In addition, stopping all this paper from entering your home is actually very eco-friendly, since you're not killing trees with all the paper you don't even want to enter your home in the first place.
Therefore, the instructions below give you some simple tips for how to stop junk mail, at least to the extent you can. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to stop it all, but if you take some or all of these steps you'll definitely eliminate the majority of junk mail you currently receive.
*** Update: Quite a number of people have expressed concern to me that the methods I've discussed below for stopping this junk mail require you to share what you consider sensitive information, inlcuding your social security number. While I completely understand people's concerns with sharing sensitive information I did a lot of research to find recommendations for this article, and the same websites I suggest people visit, and the forms I suggest they fill out are the exact same ones that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) suggests using. So this is the same method endorsed by the federal government, which may help alleviate some people's concerns about what information is being requested. ***End Update
Do you get lots of preapproved credit card and mortgage offers in your mail each week? I think most people do.
These letters are not only annoying, but you've got to take care when disposing of them to help prevent identity theft, which typically means shredding them. That takes even more of your time than just tossing stuff in the trash (or recycling bin), so it will save you lots of time to stop these offers from even coming to you in the first place.
The main credit reporting agencies are the ones who supply the information to these credit card companies in the first place, and they've created a method for you to opt out, either for five years, or permanently, from receiving these pre-screened offers.
To opt out for five years, you can use one of two methods.
First, you can call this number: 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688).
Alternatively, you can visit the website www.optoutprescreen.com, and follow the instructions provided.
Please note with either of these methods you will need to provide pertinent information about yourself, including your name, address phone number, date of birth, and social security number, to allow them to take you off the rolls. (They have all this information anyway, since they are a credit reporting agency, but they've got to make sure you're the right person being taking off the list.)
If you're interested in how to stop junk mail permanently, for these prescreened offers, you can use the same website, www.optoutprescreen.com, at least to start the process.
Again, just follow the instructions at the website, but you also need to print out and sign a form called the "Permanent Opt-Out Election Form" and mail it in to the company, at the address provided at the website.
Direct mail includes such mailings such as catalogs. Catalogs are generally quite bulky, and take up lots of space so getting rid of them can free up a lot of clutter in your home, plus stopping some temptations to buy which can help you out financially.
Further, many of these catalogs have glossy pages, and not all recycling centers will recycle such pages, making them even less green. (Although at least fortunately this is changing!)
There are actually a couple of ways to eliminate junk mail from this source, and I'll list them below, along with some tips for how to do it effectively.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has a mail preference service, called a MPS, which you can opt out of for 5 years. This service will then list you in the databases as "do not mail" or "delete" so the companies that participate in using their databases will not send you direct mail.
Be warned that not all companies use the DMA as a resource, so signing up with this list does not eliminate 100% of the direct marketing junk mail you may receive, but it should reduce it significantly.
To opt out use www.dmachoice.org, and follow the instructions at the website.
As you receive catalogs you don't want, you can also call those companies (make sure to use their toll free number!) and ask them to take you off their list.
Be sure to have the actual catalog in hand when you make the call, so that you can share any relevant information with them from the address label so they can find you on their list, and take you off.
It takes longer to call the company than to write, but my research indicates that calling is much more effective in actually getting you off the list than written requests.
(Plus, if you're really fighting with catalog clutter make sure to do the declutter catalogs mission that is part of the Declutter 365 Missions here on the site!)
You or your family members may be on a direct mail companies "list" with more than one name, such as if there is a typo or a different address, etc. Also multiple persons, including deceased family members, may still be on the list.
Therefore, when filling out the forms to get your name off these lists you've got to pay close attention to the information on the address labels you receive. You may, for example, want to fill out multiple requests to remove your name using the correct spelling and the spelling used where you received the direct mail, along with any other family member names who are also receiving these mailings, to cover all your bases.
The dirty little secret about mailing lists is that many companies rent or sell their lists to third parties, who then start sending you additional junk mail.
That means even when you actually deal with a company, and ask to receive information from them, you may actually start to receive unsolicited mail from another company who bought your name as well.
When filling out warranty cards, or other information that will be provided to a company it is a good habit to write at the top, in large print, the following:
Please do not sell my name or address.
When the company receives this information, hopefully they will put you into their database correctly, so they don't sell or rent your name and address from their list.
In addition, when you provide such information to companies over the phone, ask them to do something similar as the written instructions above.
Also, pay more attention to those little "checkboxes" that may already be checked when filling out online forms, especially when you provide your mailing address. Read what it is you are agreeing to if you keep that box checked, and make sure you really want that information. Yes, it takes a little extra time but it can keep you from receiving a bunch of junk mail you don't want or need.
When figuring out how to stop junk mail from coming into your home, you may come across some paid services you can use to stop postal junk mail for you.
Personally, I don't think these companies services are worth it, since by the time you fill out all the information they need to know to notify the companies in question, you could have just done the steps listed here in this article for free.
The steps I've outlined for how to stop junk mail are not difficult to do, and therefore I'm not sure you'd get good value for your money in using a service.
However, if you do want to use a service to help you, I have heard about Catalog Choice, which is a free service. (I have not personally used the service, but have seen it mentioned in several national newspaper articles.) I'd try it first, before trying one which requires you to pay a membership fee.
Once your name is taken off the mailing lists for much of this junk mail you may continue to get some catalogs. That is because the mailing lists for each catalog or other piece of junk mail may be compiled a couple of months before the actual piece of mail is sent out.
However, with time you should see a reduction in your junk mail as your instructions filter into the lists, removing you from their ranks.
I'd love to hear from people in the comments sharing any additional tips for how to stop junk mail that you've used, and also what you've done to make sure any junk mail you do receive gets out of your home without growing your clutter piles, and preferably recycled!
In addition, if you still need to deal with all the junk mail clutter you've previously received in your home, check out my article on how to declutter and get rid of junk mail.
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!