Ok, who even signed up for a membership to the junk mail club anyway? That’s right, nobody. Unfortunately, you’re a member of the club anyway, thanks to advertisers all across the country. That means you’re going to get spammed by catalogs, magazines, credit card offers, coupons, and just about anything else you can think of.
Thankfully, there are ways to make most of it stop. There are several resources you can use to get rid of most of your junk mail, but probably not quite all of it.
And, you’ll want to make sure you take note of all of the things you’re not supposed to do. We’ve compiled a guide for you to figure out where the junk mail is coming from, why it happens, and how to make it stop.
But in case you’re in a hurry, here’s our quick version in 3 easy steps that will only take you about 5 minutes to read and complete.
- OptOutPrescreen will help you stop any offers from credit cards and insurance companies.
- DMAchoice can stop direct mailers and large catalogs.
- CatalogChoice or PaperKarma are great for stopping other local and national mailers.
Still reading? Great. Here are some interesting facts about junk mail that may surprise you.
The USPS delivers billions of pieces of junk mail every year.
In 2018, the USPS delivered over 77 billion pieces of junk mail all across the country. Imagine the time and money spent on printing, postage, and postal worker wages. All for you to throw it away.
Mailers like this result in a 5% success rate, which means that despite the number of mailers you recieve, the sender won’t see a response from 95% of them. That’s a lot of non recyclable materials.
We’ve all seen the credit card offers saying you’re preapproved for “free” money and the soliciations from local insurance agents asking for your business. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows these business to market to you without being welcome, but it also protects your right to opt out.
While credit reporting agencies are more than welcome to share your information with these businesses, you can opt out of pre approvals…if you know how. This gives you control over some of your junk mail, and you should take it where you can get it.
By using OptOutPrescreen.com, you can get rid of these offers for 5 years. Just enter your information and submit your request. You can also submit a permanent request, but it takes a bit more effort. I’ll explain that in a bit.
Don’t call or use snail mail.
The easiest way to opt out is online. It only requires your name and address, although it will ask for your social security number and date of birth. These are optional fields you don’t have to fill out if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.
Call if you have to.
You can call 1-88-5OPT-OUT if you would rather not use their website. There have been frequent reports of the website not working properly anyway. If that’s the case, they offer an alternative.
Mail forms for permanent the opt out option.
Like I said, you can opt out permanently, but you still have to submit your initial request via phone or the website. After you do that, print the confirmation form at home and mail it in.
It might seem like a lot of work, especially if you have a large family, because everyone has to have their own request and their own form, but it’s a great way to ensure that you’re permanently unsubscribed from communications like these, which take up a large portion of the junk mail you recieve.
This service is free, so it only takes time to complete the form on OptOutPrescreen.com. It will take a few minutes to fill out and it will take a few months for it to take effect, but it’s worth it for 5 years of silence, or more.
- Visit OptOutPrescreen.com
- Enter your name and address on the form. DOB and SSN are not required.
- To opt out permanently, print the confirmation form and send it in by mail.
DMAchoice allows you to opt out of larger direct mailers and catalogs. The Data & Marketing Association promotes these types of mailers, but they also aim to self-police for ethical behavior, which means if you opt out, they generally stop.
They were founded in 1917 and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) was founded in 1910. In 2018, they combined forces and they require their members to follow a strict ethical code of conduct.
If you opt out of direct marketing, the ANA requires that their members honor your request, and if they don’t, you can report them online.
You can still go to the DMAchoice.org website to enter your preferences, but it now redirects to Safe Shepherd, which is an organization that also monitors your information online and notifies you if it’s published.
Whether you’re opting out of commercial calls in Pennsylvania or Wyoming, commercial emails, or contact lists for caregivers and deceased individuals, you can do it all. The DNAchoice website looks a bit antiquated because it hasn’t been updated, but the ANA insists it’s still operational.
Opting out here isn’t free like it is at OptOutPrescreen, but it’s worth it if you really want to monitor who has your information and do something about it.
- Visit DNAchoice.org.
- Click the Opt Out Link.
- Click Automatic, Total Opt Out to be redirected to safeshepherd.com.
- Sign up for an account by entering the required information. They also ask for some optional things that you can ignore.
- Subscribe to a plan that you think is worth it.
How it works.
Safe Shepherd has been featured on many news networks and daytime shows. They actively search the internet for your personal information and notify you if it’s been exposed. They’ll also offer tips on how to fix the problem.
The ANA requires their members to cross reference their list of prospective customers with a list of people who opt out, so if your name matches, they are supposed to remove you from their mailing campaigns.
The downside is that DMAchoice will only opt you out of organizations that are members of the ANA, so it won’t work for all of your junk mail. You may still get some mailers and catalogs even after registering.
The ANA’s most recent list of members is available for you to look at, and there are thousands of organizations that participate.
Your subscription to Safe Shepherd is valid for as long as you pay the fee, and if you have any problems with mailers, you can file a complaint. There will still be some organizations that don’t adhere to the ANA policies.
CatalogChoice is a fantastic free option if you want to opt out of catalogs. They claim they’re on a mission to stop junk mail for good, but right now, they deal primarily with about 10,000 catalogs in their database.
All you have to do is sign up and search for the specific catalogs you want to stop. They’re a non profit, so it’s completely free to do this, but they do ask for donations.
It can take some time to log in and search for catalogs one by one, but it might be worth it for you since it’s free. You don’t have to opt out of everything, which is especially useful if you still get some catalogs you like.
- Visit CatalogChoice.org.
- Register for an account using only your name and email.
- Search for the catalogs you want to opt out of.
- Enter the name and address as they appear on the catalog and why you want to opt out. You may also enter optional information like catalog account number.
- Click Confirm to enter your request.
- Check your dashboard for status updates on your request.
Once you submit your request, CatalogChoice sends that request to the catalog publisher and updates your dashboard as they receive responses.
It only takes 5 minutes to opt out of each catalog, but they do suggest you update your account about 4 times a year to account for seasonal mailers.
PaperKarma — My Personal Fave Pick
PaperKarma makes it insanely easy to stop junk mail via their mobile app. You can do it from wherever you are and you don’t have to be near a computer. You can opt out of just about anything the post office delivers, and getting rid of snail mail junk is PaperKarma’s sole purpose.
This is the perfect solution for people on the go, with more than 100,000 organizations in their database and growing. It works for any type of junk mail and isn’t restricted to prescreened mailers, catalogs, or coupons.
This is one of the biggest do not mail registry services available, and it even works for charities and local businesses. It covers almost everything CatalogChoice covers, plus a ton of local businesses and large national brands.
It’s a for-profit business, so it does require a fee, but it’s worth it for people who really want to opt out of just about everything. Plus, they won’t need to sell your information to make money. Instead, they use the proceeds to continue adding organizations to the database and improve their mobile app and service.
As a client, you can suggest a business be added to the database, and they’re currently adding about 100 new mailers every day.
If you prefer to use your phone to stop junk mail, you don’t even have to go online. It’s all contained within this mobile app, and it’s way too easy.
- Download the PaperKarma app.
- Take a picture of the logo on the junk mail you receive.
- Enter the name and address as it appears on the mailer to opt out. It doesn’t even have to be the name of a person living at your address. It can be forwarded mail from a previous tenant.
Stop junk mail from previous residents.
Whether you’re vacationing at your summer home or getting forwarded junk mail from somewhere completely different, you can use PaperKarma to stop it. Just take a picture of the logo and enter whatever name appears on the mailer.
You can get rid of junk mail that still comes addressed to the previous owner, you can opt your entire household out, and you can even stop junk mail for the deceased or your elderly parents who don’t seem to understand technology.
It’s all contained in the PaperKarma terms of service. You get an unlimited number of name and address combinations in a single PaperKarma account.
Get a free trial.
PaperKarma is so sure you’ll love it, that they offer four requests for free. If you like it, you can subscribe to any of the subscriptions they offer, and you can even pay one lifetime fee for access to the app forever.
They’ll even give you your money back if you don’t like it.
Have patience, removing junk mail takes a bit of time.
Your junk mail won’t go away immediately, so you’ll need to be patient. Once you submit your picture, PaperKarma does the legwork. They figure out who sent it and submit an opt out request for you. That means it’ll take some time. Not to mention that many bulk mailers come in phases, so you have to wait for the organization to update their mailers after all phases are complete.
What Not To Do When Cancelling Your Junk Mail
Now you are privvy to some of the ways you can get your junk mail to stop, but there are some things you need to stop doing, because they’re useless. They just won’t work because of the way our postal system operates.
Return to sender. This just can’t be done.
It’s useless to send junk mail back to the sender. Most businesses send out direct mailers in bulk, and the post office gives them a discount on their postage for doing so. These discounted postage rates don’t include a return to sender fee. If you do send it back, the post office will throw it away.
The sender will never receive it, which means they’ll never know you didn’t want it, they won’t take you off of any lists, and you’ll still get mail from them.
Some junk mail is sent via first-class mail or contains premium postage. Many mailers that include a return envelope are like this. These do include return to sender postage, but it’s futile, because these mailers make up a very small portion of your junk mail, so it’s a lot of work for very little reward.
Contact the sender directly.
This won’t get you very far either, because even after you spend a ton of time figuring out who sent it and finding the number to call, you’ll likely be on hold for a while and you have to do it for every piece of junk mail you get.
You could write an email or mail them a letter, but there’s no telling whether anyone will actually receive it or add you to any lists. You just wasted a whole lot of time for nothing.
What Kind of Junk Mail Can’t Be Stopped
Junk mail is a big problem, and unfortunately, you can’t put a stop to all of it. There are a lot of ways to stop a lot of different mailers, but there will always be things that slip through the cracks.
- Every Door Direct Mail, or EDDM, is sent by the USPS themselves, and they’ll send it through, even if you’ve opted out of everything. It’s a big revenue stream for the USPS, but it doesn’t make up the bulk of your junk mail.
- Mail that’s addressed to “Our neighbors at” or “Current resident” is nearly impossible to stop, because they’re sending to everyone within a certain radius or in a specific zip code. They probably don’t even know who you are, so if you asked them to stop, they’d still do it.
- Free-standing inserts like coupons or grocery leaflets don’t go through the post office, so there’s no way to opt out. These are generally hand delivered door to door, so there’s not much you can do.
- Scammers will target anyone, especially the elderly who are more vulnerable. They are never honorable, so it’s not likely that they’ll honor a request to stop, no matter how hard you try.
- Political mail happens around every election, and you can’t opt out, but it usually dies down once the election is over.
- Persistent companies like DirecTV, AT&T, Xfinity, Uverse, and other small regional cable providers require you to jump through hoops if you want to unsubscribe. You have to call, wait on the phone, and then verify some crazy piece of personal information they claim to have on file. It’s not impossible to opt out, but it can feel fishy and take a lot of time.
There are a few exceptions to the rule, like opting out of Valpak national coupon mailers, but otherwise, there’s not a lot you can do to stop these mailers.
Your last resort should be to call, after you use a service that will opt out for you. Once you get rid of the bulk of your mailers, you can call on the stragglers.
Frequently Asked Questions: Cancel Your Membership to Junk Mail
If you want to be done throwing out your mailers and get rid of them for good, these frequently asked questions may help you understand what junk mail is and how you can opt out of it easily.
Is it worth unsubscribing to junk mail?
Any piece of mail you get that you didn’t ask for is considered junk mail. It’s unsolicited and annoying. Unless your grandma sends you money for your birthday. Then that’s ok.
Almost all of the junk mail you’ll get is advertising and marketing. It comes in the form of coupons, catalogs, donations requests, credit offers, insurance quotes, and magazines.
If you don’t want it, it is worth unsubscribing to junk mail. Just think of all the trees you’ll save!
Why do I get junk mail?
Businesses can get your information for nearly anywhere. Local businesses will blanket the entire area with their mailers, even without you signing up for anything. However, you’ll also find yourself on lists as a result of changing your address, applying for loans and credit cards, or donating to charity.
It comes from everywhere, so it’s almost impossible to prevent signing up for it, whether you do it on purpose or not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stop it once it starts.
How do I stop junk mail?
It depends on your level of comfort, but you can stop this mail by calling, getting online, or using an app. Any of the options listed here are great, but you’ll likely find one that works better for you than the others.
Whatever your preference, there’s nothing wrong with using one or all. Just choose what’s easiest for you and you’ll see results with a little time and patience.
Why does stopping junk mail matter?
If you continue to throw your junk mail away, you’re contributing to an even bigger problem. Many of these mailers are made from materials you can’t recycle, so they’re in landfills everywhere.
Not to mention, their wasting other resources like your time and the time of the postal workers who have to carry them. There’s so much waste in junk mail, even given the greener alternatives (like internet), that it needs to stop.
If you opt out of anything you can, you’re doing your part to find a solution. You’ll impact the volume of mail postal workers have to carry, and you’ll reduce the amount of money that gets spent on materials as well as the space they are taking up in the landfill.
Final Thoughts: Cancel Your Membership to Junk Mail
If you’re frustrated by junk mail, there are plenty of things you can do to stop it. While you can’t get rid of all junk mail, you can get rid of most of it. The junk mail you can’t get rid of makes up just a small portion of all that you receive anyway.
In three easy steps, you can stop junk mail in just a few months. With OptOutPrescreen, DMAchoice, PaperKarma, and CatalogChoice, you’ll see a significant reduction in the amount of junk mail you get, and it will only take you five minutes.
My top pick has to be PaperKarma because the app makes it super easy, super streamlined and you can cancel your membership to junk mail for you and your entire household in just a few minutes!