NEW YORK (3/15/06), CUNA
If your mailbox is sagging under the weight of junk mail, make a few calls and write a few letters to save more than a few trees (ABC News March 3).
Write to the DMA.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) maintains a list of consumers who don't wish to receive direct--or advertising--mail. If you register, the DMA notifies its business members not to contact you with direct mail or advertising. Make sure you tell DMA about every name and every spelling of every name under which you receive junk mail. And note if you're a Jr., Sr., II, or III. It may take a few months for solicitations to slow down. Note that marketers who aren't DMA members will send you junk mail, and you'll have to renew your request every five years. Write to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel NY 10512. Written requests are free. Or, register online for $5 at dmaconsumers.org.
To block most prescreened credit card offers, opt out by calling 888-567-8688. Credit card companies affiliated with the big three credit-reporting agencies will abide by your request to be taken off their direct mail lists. Note that you'll still receive some offers by companies not affiliated with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. When you call, you'll be asked if you want to be removed from lists for five years or forever. You can call back and "opt in" if you change your mind later. Note that you'll be asked for your Social Security number and some other personal information; it's OK to give it when you initiate this call.
Don't sign up.
If you sign up for freebies at the county fair, or even for grocery store discount cards, count on being placed on a mailing list. And if you fill out warranty cards, only give four pieces of information: your name, address, date of purchase, and the product's model or serial number. All other information, such as your hobbies, income and education, may be sold to direct marketers.
Keep your address private.
Some companies and organizations--including the Department of Motor Vehicles--give you the choice to opt out of sharing your name and address. Take advantage of those opportunities.
Don't fall for the disguise.
Some junk mail is disguised as overnight mail, government mail, a bill, or a personal letter--just to get you to open the envelope. Learn to recognize the disguise. And if a company keeps sending you junk mail, write and ask to be taken off its mailing list.
If you have a junk mail complaint, contact your local postal inspector.