Drowning in Junk Mail – How to Opt-out of Junk Mail Using a DMA Ethics Complaint

This is a step of last resort. Before you do this you should have:

  • Signed up for DMA Choice and waited 6-8 weeks after the latest update to the do not mail list, if that didn’t work,
  • Directly e-mailed and called the junk mailer waited for a reply, and then wait 6-8 weeks for it to take affect.

You have done all of that. But the junk mail won’t stop. Now it is time to bring out the big guns. Contact the DMA. All of that other stuff you have tried to do, and them ignoring it is a big no, no in the eyes of the DMA. Them ignoring you makes every other direct marketing firm look bad and gives the whole industry a bad name.

DMA ethics guidelines:

There are a couple of ways to file a complaint with the Ethics Board at the DMA:

  • The best way is to fill out the online form, you can upload photos and emails.
  • Or you can go old school and mail in an example of the junk mail and a complaint letter to:
    Direct Marketing Association
    Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) Department
    1615 L St. NW Suite 1100
    Washington, DC 20036-5624

Lay out your case, tell them all the ways you have tried to contact the junk mailer. That snippy email reply you got from a junk mailer? Include that. How much mail you get from them, how often. Use key words like: how old your person is, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, that the junk mail is elder abuse. You get the idea.

DMA Ethics Case Complaint form for State Department Watch

My enclosed correspondence. If I knew they were going to forward this to State Department Watch I would have added more personal information about her.

DMA Ethics Case Complaint From

Name: Jennifer Bell
Email: darthjenni at gmail.com
Date: September 26, 2014
Name of organization that you are bringing to our attention: State Department Watch
Organization Contact Information: sdw@statedepartmentwatch.org
Address on return envelope: PO Box 97343 Washington DC 20090-7343
Street address: 22648 Ave San Luis WOODLAND HILLS CA 91364,
Mailing address: PO Box 6102 WOODLAND HILLS CA 91365
Phone number: (818) 223-8080
Contact Person at the organization: Carl Olson

Please give a brief overview of your concerns and attach any relevant correspondence or other documents:

This complaint is being made on behalf of [name]. My family has power of attorney for her affairs.
I have contacted State Department Watch by email and by phone and received no response. I would like [name] to be taken off their mailing list.
I would also like her to be taken off the mailing list for their other projects:

Minuteman Project With Jim Gilchris
Tea Party Campaign With Dr. Jerome Corsi
The Tea Party
American Sovereignty Task Force

Letters from the DMA to Carl Olson and Jerome Corsi

This the response I got back from the DMA:

This letter is concerning a complaint that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has received regarding mail pieces being sent from your organization to the above-named consumer. In our ongoing effort to build trust and be responsive to the consumers of the direct marketing industry, we are forwarding this complaint to you for your response.

Ms. [name] [relationship], Jennifer Bell, has tried repeatedly to remove her elderly [relationship] name and address from your organization’s mailing lists but has not been successful in having her requests honored. Please see enclosed correspondence. Ms. Bell has asked us to contact your organization to request that you remove her [relationship] name and address from your in-house mailing. Prospect and share lists.

The Direct Marketing Association encourages all marketers to adhere to its self-regulatory Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice and its Commitment to Consumer Choice (CCC) program http://www.dmaresponsibility.org/ and Compliance Center http://thedma.org/compliance/. This includes promptly honoring individual opt-out requests, whether the individual is a customer or prospective customer. Our guidelines require that you keep a list of consumers who have asked not to hear from you and remove them from lists you mail to, share or rent.

We ask your cooperation in complying with the consumer’s request in a timely manner. We would appreciate it if you respond directly to Ms. Bell and provide us with a copy of your response.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.


Lisa Brown Shosteck
DMA Corporate & Social Responsibility Department

I didn’t get a response from Carl Olson or Jerome Corsi but the junk mail did stop.

Since I now know that my letter will be seen by the group that won’t stop sending stuff, I revised it a bit:

This complaint is being made on behalf of my 87 year old [relationship][name].[name] has dementia and my family has power of attorney for her affairs. I would like [name] to be taken off their mailing list. I contacted [junk mailer] by email and phone and received no reply. I would like her to be taken off their master mailing list, the master mailing list of their direct marketing firm, and any lists they buy.

That is a good template to start with. I have added more depending on how bad it has been dealing with one group or another. If they are using multiple variations of your name include them all.

The only problem with the e-filing system is that it doesn’t send an auto-reply conformation email. Make sure you keep good notes on the complaints you have sent out.

3 thoughts on “Drowning in Junk Mail – How to Opt-out of Junk Mail Using a DMA Ethics Complaint

  1. Interesting article. I am currently trying to email State Department Watch to ask that my deceased father be removed from their mailing list. I can’t seem to find a valid email address for them. The two that are listed on their website get returned as undeliverable. I have mailed over 50 organizations since my dad passed 7 weeks ago. Not sure if it has slowed down yet, but just started trying to email since he continues to receive multiple mailings from a lot of them.


    • I am so sorry that you have to battle junk mail, on top of everything else you are dealing with. Did you see my list of things to do when someone passes away? If you do the first few things on the list you will see a difference in 3 months.

      State Department Watch are a bunch of jerks, and only stopped when I tattled on them. File a complaint with the DMA, the FTC and your state’s attorney general. They need to be put on blast for what they do to people’s families. If you are feeling extra vengeful contact the Senate Committee on Aging. Tell them about anyone who gives you trouble stopping their junk mail, and the amounts of junk mail your father is getting.


  2. Pingback: Drowning in Junk Mail – How to Opt-Out of Junk Mail from ForthRight Strategy AKA Base Connect | Drowning in Junk Mail

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