This is a round up of my odyssey of trying to save an old woman (and my mail box) from junk mail. This is the quick easy version if you want to see the fun, and the thought process that went into this list, read the rest of the blog. I will be updating this page as I get better at stopping junk mail.
Step 1. I had to take a scorched earth strategy when attacking the junk mail. When you are getting 20+ pieces of junk mail a day, you just need to make it stop.
I recommend tossing all the mail in a big box and sorting through it once a week. That way you can really see who is sending the most stuff, and focus on them. Open everything, you will be getting free money, return address labels, stamps, calendars and, note pads. A lot of the cost of stopping the junk mail will be off set by these freebies.
- Sign up for DMAChoice this will stop everything that you or your elderly person has never given money to, either bought a product or given a donation. The updated list is sent out 4 times a year: January, April, July, and October. It will take 6 to 8 weeks after the the next update to see a difference in your mailbox. If you are the legal guardian, have Power of Attorney for a loved one use the Do Not Contact for Caretaker’s Registration. If you are receiving mail for a person who has passed away use the Deceased Do Not Contact Registration page.
- You can also sign up for directmail.com‘s National Do Not Mail List. It is independent from DMAChoice.
- Opt-out out of data brokers and other data mining sites.
- If you are still getting to much mail, sign up for Catalog Choice or PaperKarma. You must ask every group individually to opt out.
- Directly email the company who is sending you stuff. I got a response for about 1/3 of the emails I sent out. But for those who did respond 100% of the junk mail stopped.
- The next step after that is finding out who their direct marketing firm is. (coming soon)
- If they sill can’t take the hint, contact the Ethics Board at the DMA email@example.com. They will send a stern letter to the offender.
A couple of the top groups that were sending me the most stuff were:
The #1 way people find my site is looking up United States Investigative Unit
The National Center for Public Policy Research you can either use Catalog Choice or PaperKarma to opt-out or if you are me you will “Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject header ‘Delete from Solicitation’. Please include your name and mailing address in your e-mail correspondence.” and stop it at the source. Read this to help ID all the NCPPR front groups.
Federation of Responsible Citizens (FRC) is less well known but you can get over 10 letters from them in one week. E-mail them here FedofRespCitizen@aol.com. Read this to help ID all the FRC front groups.
Even if you don’t see mail with these group’s names on it in big print you may still be getting mail from a front group, or a close political friend.
Look closely at the return envelope it may tell you who is really sending you mail. In this case The American Federation of Senior Citizens is a project of FRC, so you would send an e-mail to Federation of Responsible Citizens.
This next part is the hardest. Wait. It can take up to 3 months for an address to cycle out of the mailing lists. From here on out we will be dealing with scams and other predatory mail that is targeted at the elderly.
Step 2. Mail Revenge: You have waited to be cycled out of legitimate mailing lists. All that should be left is the real dregs. 419 scams of various kinds, from the US and abroad. Open everything.
The prize you are looking for are postage paid envelopes.
Fake checks, real money, and stamps are a bonus. Take the pre-paid envelopes and whatever they want you to send back, write in big letters “Take me off your mailing list”. Then stuff the envelope as much as you can.
Be creative, other junk mail, fake money, glitter.
The sky is the limit as long as it fits in the envelope. Try to get the thickness of the envelope over 1/4in, that makes it cost even more.
Then mark out all the bar codes on the front of the envelope. By adding weight, thickness, and marking out the routing codes you will cost them more money when they have to pay the post office. This should get you kicked off the next lower level of junk mail.
Step 3. This is the nuclear option. This one takes more time and a little money, and is best used on the worst scammy junk mail you get. Declare it porn. Fill out the Post office’s Prohibitory Order Against Sender (USPS form 1500). This will make it stop in 30 days. USPS form 1500 (PDF) also called a Prohibitory Order. This is an excellent walk through of the process from Knowmore.org (the web site seems to be down so I am linking to the Wayback Machine version)
Update: This does not work on international mail. Only on mail that comes from the US. I am working on a way to stop international scams.
Update to the update: The international scams stop, when you are dropped US based scamer’s mailing lists.
Update: They must be selling you something in the mail piece. Asking for $20 to get $10 million counts, and it works on all sweepstakes.
Update: Here is my How to guide to filling out Prohibitory Order Against Sender (USPS form 1500).