Are You Drowning in Junk Mail? Start Here

How to Stop Drowning in Junk Mail

How to Stop Drowning in Junk Mail

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.

Before I started, I had to set up some rules for myself. This very easily could have become a money pit with me yelling at people everyday. Whenever I had the urge to start screaming at people, or start flinging junk mail across the room, out of frustration, I just went back to this list.


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.

Box o' Junk Mail, 134 pieces
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.

You need to put up a shield of protection over your mailbox:

  • 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. (Some people have interpreted this as my saying not to do this step. This is the number #1 thing you can do to stop junk mail. 99% of the people who find this blog will only need to do this and use PaperKarma. The problems come when you are trying to clean up 50+ years of junk mail mail like I am.)
  • If you are the legal guardian, or have Power of Attorney for a loved one use the Do Not Contact for Caretaker’s Registration (it has the same effect as the regular DMAChoice page)
  • You can also sign up for directmail.com‘s National Do Not Mail List. It is independent from DMAChoice.
  • Stop credit card offers: Opt-Out Pre-Screen or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) They are going to ask you for your Social Security Number. It is OK, that is the way the credit bureaus ID you.
  • Telemarketer InfoCision call them at (330)668-1400 or email them at infocis@infocision.com. They are called a telemarketer but they are so much more. They also do mailing list management for their clients. If you get a lot of phone calls from charities, more that likely it is these guys. Even if phone calls aren’t a problem contact them anyway.
  • If you are receiving mail for a person who has passed away, I have a post about stopping mail for a deceased person.

This next group are all data brokers. They turn your life into data points that are sold to direct marketers:

If you want to go to the next level with opting out of data brokers and other data mining sites there is a lot more you can do.


Step 2. You have now put up a strong shield around your mail box. It is time to wait. It may take up to 3 months, to see a difference in your mail box. While you are waiting there are somethings you can do:

Sign up for Catalog Choice or PaperKarma. You must enter every group individually to opt out. I found PaperKarma to be more effective than Catalog Choice.

Clean up your everyday junk mail:
Red Plum, Penny Saver, and Valpak, The Unholy 3
To stop  Valpack coupons. To stop Red Plum ads. To stop the PennySaver.

Publishers Clearing House
Opt-out of Publishers Clearing House this is a gateway to the next lower level of junk mail, opt-out here or use one of the services.
Opt-out of Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes customercare@rd.com or call (877)732-4438

St. Joseph's Indian School 2014 Christmas Appeal
Opt-out of St. Joseph’s Indian School saintjosephs@stjo.org. Their fundraiser will sell you out to anyone with a checkbook. They may be the gateway to scams from the Netherlands.

stuffed envelope

Junk Mail Revenge: Make them pay for wasting your time.


Step 3. Three months have passed, you can see a difference in the junk mail you get, but it is still to much. It is time to escalate your strategy.

Directly contact the company who is sending you stuff. That is a phone call and an email on the same day. I found calling to be way more effective than email. I also didn’t leave a message, unless there was an option in the phone tree for opting out of their mailing list.

Find out who their direct marketing firm is. The direct marketing firms that were sending the most stuff were American Target Advertising, HSP Direct, Base Connect, Response Unlimited.

How to research the people who make the junk mail.

If you didn’t get a reply from either the phone call or the email it is time to go to the next level. Contact the Ethics Board at the DMA and fill out an Ethics Complaint form. They will send a stern letter to the offender. My guide to filling out a DMA Ethics Complaint. You should also contact your state’s attorney general and file a complaint with them. The AG will also send a letter to the junk mailer asking them to stop. You need to leave a paper trail with as many people as possible. What they are doing is harassment. If enough people file complaints the “charity” and everyone they work with will get into trouble.


Fraud letter and USPS form 1500
Step 4. 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) They must be selling you something in the mailpiece. Asking for $20 to get $10 million counts, and it works on all sweepstakes. It does not work on charities 501(c)(3) or Political Action Committees 501(c)(4). It does not work on international mail. Only on mail that comes from the US. Lucky for you that as you stop the US scams, the international scams also stop.

Update: Here is my How to guide to filling out Prohibitory Order Against Sender (USPS form 1500).


This will not stop the junk mail but it will leave a paper trail for the next person:
File a complaint with the FTC.
File a Mail Fraud Complaint with U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

If this whole process has not soured you on donating to charities and political causes please read my guide on How to be a More Effective Charitable Donor. I will sum it up for you: If you ask them not to share your information and they do, stop sending them money. Charities need to learn that the money they make form selling out their donors will cost them the donor’s loyalty, trust, and most importantly their money.

 

96 thoughts on “Are You Drowning in Junk Mail? Start Here

  1. I now have 70 spam phone numbers blocked on one of my phones and over 100 spam numbers blocked on my other phone. I am sick of it. I get more of these calls than I do legitimate calls. I contacted my state’s attorney general’s office of consumer protection recently and asked what can be done about it. I do not pay for phone service to be harassed by scammers and telemarketers. I was told scammer calls originate from places such as Africa and primarily intend to target the elderly. The incoming numbers are “cloaked” in that it is impossible for anyone, including authorities, to know precisely from whom they originate. At the present time, there is nothing that can be done about it. However, I was told that because so many elderly people have been scammed out of thousands of dollars, the FCC now is investigating ways of eliminating this abuse. I am unsure it will be possible, but I hope it will be possible soon.

    I have managed to eliminate most of my junk snail mail, thankfully, but the junk email is still overwhelming. For example, before the election, I received several emails a day from so-called “super PAC’s” trying to drum up cash and votes for Trump. I told these people I am not a Republican, nor would I ever be, and I am in fact to the left of the Democrats, so these PAC’s have no hope of getting anything from me. Still, the emails kept pouring in. Even now that the election is over, I am still getting emails from these groups. There is little that can be done about it according to the authorities. My only wish is that I could meet these people in person in a dark alley out of earshot of any other human being. ; )

    By the way, if Red Plum, the marketing group that sends out weekly grocery store circulars and other ads has your name and address, they will sell it to anyone who is willing to pay for it, so they are a PRIME source of the proliferation of junk snail mail. One can ask to be taken off Red Plum’s mailing list, and thus stop the selling of one’s name and address, but it takes weeks to be taken off of the list, and then the battle ensues to stop the junk snail mail from everyone to whom Red Plum sold one’s information. It is maddening. I think this sort of abuse warrants a class action suit against each one of these junk snail mailers.

    In the meantime, the best I have been able to do is to strategise ways to stop each one individually. I contact each junk snail mailer up to three times and ask to be taken off of its list. (I save all of the junk mail to enter into evidence in court, too.) Upon the third request, I inform them that if I receive one more piece of mail, I will report them to the Better Business Bureau and to my state’s attorney general’s office for consumer protection. If after receiving notice from the BBB and the attorney general’s office of my complaint the junk snail mail continues, I will file a complaint with the JPS court alleging harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy, and I will ask for money damages. At the very least, if the junk snail mailer is incorporated, they are legally bound to hire an attorney to represent them in the case, and I will make sure I create as much work in phone calls, letters, and pleadings to keep their attorney very busy indeed, and that translates into $$$$ legal fees for the junk snail mailers. I am serious as a heart attack about this, too. It is no idle threat. I have followed up in exactly this manner on many, many, many junk snail mailers, and that is how I FINALLY got them off my back and out of my post box. However, I find it pathetic that ANYONE should have to go to these lengths to get these marketers off of his/her back.

    Like

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