Operation Stop Junk Mail

I am sick and tired of receiving junk mail. It wastes my time, it wastes resources, and it generally has no redeeming value whatsoever. Even worse, I feel that for some classes of junk mail (stupid stuff like balance transfer checks, which I will never ever use), I need to take special care to shred it to avoid identity theft or scammery. So, I’m going to try to do everything I can to stop junk mail from being sent to me, and document everything that I’ve done in the hopes that it gives other people some ideas on how to stem the tide of garbage hitting their mailbox.

The first step on this journey is the FTC’s “Stopping Unsolicited Mail, Phone Calls, and Email” page. Here you will find:

  • optoutprescreen.com, which is a site created by four major U.S. credit reporting companies to allow you to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers. You can opt out for a period of five years electronically — to opt out permanently, you need to mail in a signed form (which is a ridiculously weaselly requirement that is just trying to raise the pain threshold for truly opting out). Considering how much junk mail I get that consists of credit card offers, this seems like a great place to start. Note that unlike USPS mail forwarding, every individual in the household will need to opt out.
  • The government’s “do not call” registry, www.donotcall.gov. While this doesn’t actually address junk mail, it’s such a basic quality-of-life improvement that it’s worth including anyway.
  • The Direct Marketing Association’s “Mail Preference Service” site, www.dmachoice.org. This lets you opt out of several categories of junk mail. They also have an “e-mail preference service” which alleges to reduce unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Beyond that, now you’ll need to start on some other companies with whom you probably do business, and sell your name and address to “marketing partners.” The primary ones that I’m focusing on are banks, credit card companies, and airlines, since those seem to constitute most of the garbage offers I get in the mail. The general rule of thumb is that the “opt-out” switches tend to be hidden in each company’s “Privacy Policy” section of their site — if you can’t find any way to opt out of slimy sleazy marketing in the normal account settings, check their privacy policy. (I’m guessing that there’s a legal reason for this, but I haven’t dug into the specifics.)

I’m going to start with these and see how it goes. Hopefully this will eradicate a significant amount of hassle and wasted time and resources!

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