About

In November of 2013 she broke her hip (again). For the first time in 50 years she was out of her house for a protracted period of time. My family went to help her out. They thought they would be going to hold her hand, and make sure she was getting better.

What they didn’t expect was to find this in her house:
Living room covered in junk mail

Chair and walker covered in junk mail

Table with a mound of junk mail

The mail was everywhere.

In the kitchen
Kitchen counter covered in junk mail

On the end table next to the couch
End table covered in junk mail

Which is normal in most houses. So you just clean up the end table, and find this:
Junk Mail hiding under the end table

This paper shredder is waving the white flag of surrender
Office covered in junk mail

The thing that really freaked my family out was this:

Junk Mail with a cigarette burn
It is a cigarette burn in the junk mail. She fell a sleep and dropped her cigarette on the piles of junk mail on the floor. She could have burned the whole house down.

While she was in rehab, we learned that she had a lot more problems than just a broken hip. She has dementia and can no longer be left alone. So the long process of moving her to a long term care facility, and packing up her house began. As they started cleaning the house, the mail wouldn’t stop coming. Over 20 pieces a day. The phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Over 30 calls a day. The phone was easy to fix, they just unplugged it. The mail however… was redirected to my house. At first it was cute, I would open it, laugh at the silly over the top political rhetoric, find the pre-paid envelopes put a note inside “take me off your mailing list” and go on with my day. But it didn’t stop. In March 2014 I snapped. I turned to the only place I thought could help me: The Internet. All I found were jokes and nonsense: “Tape the pre paid envelope to a brick” har har har. Not only does that not work, I would have emptied Home Depot in a month.

That was why I started this blog. I have searched the depths of the internet, to find out what really works to stop the systematic harassment of the elderly through the mail. I have made a lot of mistakes and have been overly aggressive in my tactics but, I don’t care anymore. I just want the junk mail to stop.

Update: She passed away on Valentine’s day 2015. Did the junk mail stop? No, of course not.

I do have a life outside of stopping junk mail: Darthjenni’s Adventure blog. It is trip reports of my husband and I travels, mostly around Southern California deserts.

You can follow me on Facebook, twitter @darthjenni or Google+

Are you being harassed by junk mail? Need help stopping it? Want to share a photo of some junk mail (the sillier the better)?

darthjenni AT gmail . com

 

30 thoughts on “About

  1. I have been fighting a similar battle since December. My 93 yo mother-in-law was getting 40-50 per day. I have it down to about 100 per week. I understand your frustration. I have contacted the Federal Elections Commission about all the PACs that refuse to respond. I hope they can offer some help.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did the same thing lol. Everything they are doing is legal. As per the laws they wrote for themselves. I am taking it to the next level and will start posting the direct marketers that make the mail. Could you please tell me who didn’t respond to you? I will find who their direct marketing firm is for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been trying to get my 91 y.o. mother off of these lists since November of 2013. I have predominantly worked through Catalogue Choice along with personal e-mails, phone calls and visiting individual websites to contact. I appreciate finding your website which led me to Response Unlimited. I am going to give that a try since many of the groups that I have filed complaints with are from this source. I have my fingers crossed.

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  5. Merry Christmas! I am celebrating by culling three very large boxes of my mother’s mail solicitations that I have been tossing in boxes since this time last year (and a much smaller box of my own). She still wants to donate to a lot of these, so I’m entering them all in a spreadsheet, then looking them up, making a note of the ones with poor ratings and highlighting the ones with very good ratings, as well as the ones that send only one or two letters a year. So far I’m about 1/3 of the way through and I have a list of 245 organizations (non- and for-profit). This includes telephone solicitations as well. I’m hopeful that the other two boxes will be mostly repeats.
    I’m so glad to have found your website! Good luck and I hope to learn from your experience.

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      • Thank you, darthjenni! I’m just now seeing your post. The funny thing is, now that I throw everything into a box and just pass along the few local charities she has a connection with (ahem, sound familiar?), she doesn’t miss all those other solicitations at all. Her one real vice is Publishers Clearinghouse, but she doesn’t buy anything from them, just sticks on the stickers, colors inside the lines and sends the forms back. Anyway, so all it took was for me to act as her live-action spam-mail blocker. And after registering on the first-line-of-defense websites you list, our junk mail has already decreased. I’ll probably continue sorting those boxes of mail, though, just to complete the record. It gave me something to do during the Superbowl. Congratulations on approaching 0!

        Liked by 1 person

      • One more follow-up. I was on Coursera looking for something else, and found this course:
        https://class.coursera.org/giving2-001/wiki/syllabus
        Giving 2.0: The MOOC is intended to educate givers of all ages, backgrounds, incomes and experiences about effective philanthropy. Taught by social entrepreneur, philanthropist and bestselling author Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Giving 2.0: The MOOC will teach learners how to assess nonprofits, create a high-impact philanthropic strategy, volunteer more effectively, use existing, free technology for good and more.
        I will work my way through it (but a little at a time, because I find her voice really grating).

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      • when sending something back in a no postage necessary envelope, leaving my mom’s name/address on the inside (would make sense if they need to know who to kick down to the next lower level of junk crap) has anyone ever had any type of “retaliation” from these jerks???

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  6. I’ve been fighting this battle for my own mother (85 in a couple of weeks). Your information is by far the best. I have also ordered a call blocker (she is getting over 25 calls a day from Jamaica which her phone company says they cannot block). I’ll let you know how that works out. Most people aren’t as lucky as you – being able to just unplug it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great site.

    I can relate to your struggles. My father, who died about a year ago, used to receive 10 to 20 pieces of junk mail a day. He felt the need to read all of them–“Sometimes they include a stamp or quarter.” Because he was never a fast reader, the junk mail piled up. When we were cleaning out his office in January 2014, we ran across things that said “Help Stop Howard Dean”–from the 2004 campaign.

    We did a few things to help with the junk mail. We wrote “Deceased, Return to Sender” on the envelopes and gave them back to the mailman. For reasons unknown, my dad started to get a lot of magazines in his final years. He never read them. My mom wanted to let the subscriptions lapse. I called all of them and had the subscriptions cancelled. We even got close to $100 back in checks. Lastly, we informed all callers from organizations that he had died. These 3 things cut the junk mail down to about 1 or 2 a day.

    Another thing I do is track who is selling my information. I subscribe to several magazines. When I sign up for them, I use a fake first name and my real last name (using your real last name will insure you mail gets delivered and held). I create my fake first name using my first initial then an abbreviation for the magazine. If my name is John Smith and I want to get Sports Illustrated, I will subscribe under the name “Jsi Smith”. The post office doesn’t care, and neither does SI, as long as the check clears. Thus, if I get junk mail addressed to “Jsi Smith”, I can immediately toss in the recycle bin. I also know that SI sold my name. This practice doesn’t stop the junk mail, but it does help me sort mail from things I signed up for and unsolicited junk.

    As an aside, my quick examination of my dad’s junk mail showed me how people play on fear and paranoia (on all sides). There were countless surveys in my dad’s piles of junk. I’m certain that the “organizations” that received the completed surveys never tallied the results, and threw out everything except the checks.

    Keep up the good fight.
    –Chris in Colorado

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My Dad died two years ago. I forwarded his mailing address to my house and told the post office where he lived that I didn’t want junk mail. He received about 50 pieces a day. Needless to say, we are getting about 5-10 pieces a day even yet. I figure, if they want to waste their money, let them. They aren’t getting a dime from me. I do think it’s a terrible thing for the elderly to have to deal with because many of them don’t know if they are legit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Many thanks for that blog!
    As a philatelist (from Germany) dealing with modern postal history and developments all of these US junk and scam mails are real treasures for us. We are not the old fashioned picture collector any more, the young and hip philatelists reach “the today” too 😉 Sounds a bit silly, but these (complete) envelopes items are real collective items (ok, they are no blue Mauritius or an Inverted Jenny – maybe in 200 years…hi), specially with metered postage, “presorted” stamps and – as the best ones – the “Mailer’s Postmark Permits”. Seriously… Don’t stop them to send, ask for more, collect them and join the family of modern philately, have fun ;-))

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    • Just before I forget, and please don’t misunderstand me: It’s important to publish the “inside” of these scan/junk, to inform and to understand “whats really inside”, maybe speak with your elderly neighbors and family members… We have the same “problem” here in Germany too (nearly no political items, but) many ‘bad’ fund-raisers, specially before Xmas. Poverty porn par excellence… Not so many, as the German postal service doesn’t have “non profit organization” rates.

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  12. I’m so glad I came across your site. We’ve been having problems with my 82 year old mother in law and her massive amount of junk mail and all the people trying to guilt her into sending her money. She is out of town for the next few weeks so we are able to really get to work on this. Thanks for all the helpful info.

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  13. Ah, the positive attitude- out of town for the next few weeks. mmmm-it took me over five years & that was with living with Mom 6 months of the year and bringing the mail to her. I would only give her 5-7 & send “Take me off you mailing list” to the twenty others. Of course , the mailings didn’t stop & as soon as I went home, she would send them checks –so I’d be back to square one. Her income was $21,000 yrly & she only bought groceries, no clothes or anything, turned the lights off, no tv –but she’d give $9-$11,000 away to scams. She thought she was helping the world. When I stopped some that she was giving $300 mthly to, they sent their mail registered so the rural mail delivery man came knocking on the door. (they wanted a donation of $1,000, $500, or $300 so she would send the least because she didn’t know she could send less). I won’t send anything to anybody!! I give directly to someone in need & helping a politician is useless-they are all brainless or besotted with power. (Can’t tell I’m angry can you?–and I always will be) Someone called from the children’s wish foundation & then was astounded when I told her about all the junk they sent Mom just so she would donate. Oh, no-I must be confusing them with another charity. Do you think Fred Thompson knew how bad reverse mortgages are when he was promoting them? I don’t-he thought he was doing good – but he didn’t check deep enough on the product he was promoting.

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  14. I just moved my mom in next door to me in April, I pick up her mail everyday at my request so I can keep an eye out, I knew she was being scammed some but I had no idea how much, its was a lot. Your blog has helped me so much. I have reduced it considerably but still have a ways to go. Thank you for this information.

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  15. My journey down this rathole began after my 90 yr old father’s passing in Nov 2008. His place was about ten times deeper in papers than your mother’s, and the crux was finding the few legitimate important items buried randomly. Upon having his mail forwarded to my PO box set up for just this purpose, I began to weigh the volume, and while I was not scrupulously detailed, after one year I had counted over 1/2 TON, 1000 lb. Nearly all were far-right causes, from legitimate ie RNC etc. to fringe fanatics and outright con men the Postal agencies had even warned him about previously. The beggars were relentless, and dozens came monthly at least whether or not he’d already sent a check to that group. Only in the past year is the volume finally down to a trickle, regardless of some initial success contacting the senders and entering his name in the voluntary national anti-junk mail registry.
    Although we have made very modest donations to some liberal causes, we’ve never been bombarded in the manner the Right seems to utilize; scammers appear to target the elderly especially, and with conservative leanings statistically, that may account for the difference. Still, it is appalling to read the hate and fear-mongering used in ploys to separate seniors from their funds, whether for ‘legitimate’ campaigns or outright frauds.
    I am still using the pool of free stamps I tore off return envelopes over the years, and I took to returning empty every pre-paid metered envelope, empty or stuffed with scraps, once I’d already enclosed two or more polite requests for that group to remove his name, as “Deceased”. Good luck and good work.

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    • Oh wow 8 years is a long time to sill be getting junk mail for your dad. The PO box is only for your dad’s junk mail? Have you thought of just closing the PO Box, and not leaving a forwarding address? You could also tell the post office your dad has passed away. I have instructions on how to that here.

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  16. Thank you so much for this information!!! My Mother has gotten taken for at least $50,000 in the past few years, much of it believing she was on a special committee to impeach Obama (she WAS a lifelong Democrat). We have gotten in so many arguments about her junk mail and how she is getting scammed and she won’t believe me. This info is so helpful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. You are helping so many people!!!! Keep up the good work 🙂

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  17. You have created a wonderful and unique resource. Thank you. It is much appreciated!
    My observation is that there is an industry that preys on the elderly, much like the phone scammers who call and say “this is your grandson…”.
    The mail always uses emotional cues:
    – Words: Important, immediate, special, urgent, must be stopped.. . (PS – give us $)
    – Engagement: Your opinion is needed by this survey/politician (PS – give us $)
    – Guilt: Include a free coin, stamp, prayer item, address label, sock, puffy mailer (PS – give us $)
    – Worthy cause: Saving us all from political/religious injustices, unfair taxes/losses of liberty, … (PS – give us $)
    The more sleazy the sender, the harder it is to find a contact to stop the mailing, and the more new list-senders they have sold your address to.
    Internet entrepreneurs have done such a great job of automating so many other tasks. I wonder if this is an opportunity for someone to offer an app or website to combine phone, email and postal scam prevention into a single simple product. It would even be worth a subscription fee.

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