Tip #4: Reduce Junk Mail

Reduce the amount of junk mail that you receive.  Learn about three ways that you can use to stop junk mail in Climate Advice Columnist Michael J. Coren’s article The Washington Post (Click Here for Link). The first part of the article covers the extent of the problem and the history of it, etc. The text featured below covers the “how to do it” part, taken from the article and presented here for your convenience.

Three ways to stop junk mail

Ultimately, stopping most of my junk mail took me less than half an hour over a few months. Here are the three steps to do it.

Stop most advertisements:

Check out the Association of National Advertisers’ DMAchoice.org. This service lets you stop delivery of catalogues, magazine offers and other junk items from charities, banks and national brands.

DMAchoice says this will stop 80 percent of promotional offers since marketers would rather contact people willing to receive their mail. You can register online for $4, or by mail for $5, to stop deliveries for 10 years. There are options to stop mail for a deceased relative and even electronic spam. The process took me about five minutes.

Stop credit card and insurance offers: 

Never want to see another prescreened credit or insurance offer in the mail? Such solicitations can put you at risk for fraud — but you can opt out. The 1996 Fair Credit Reporting Act led to the creation of OptOutPrescreen.com. The website allows you to opt out for five years online or by calling 888-567-8688.

To stop offersforever, you’ll need to sign and return the Permanent Opt-Out Election form. The entire process takes a few weeks to complete, but it only took a few minutes to fill out the form.

Stop mail from specific businesses: 

For that, I turned to services able to take my name off mailing lists of individual retailers, marketers and charities. Companies you’ve done business with in the past few years may still be allowed to contact you, charities may sell your name, and some just slip through the cracks.

CatalogChoice.org is a nonprofit organization that has a list of 10,000 businesses and charities. It lets you automatically send an opt-out request to specific companies. Just search the website’s pre-populated company list, and a seamless click of the mouse sends a request on your behalf. Best of all, it’s free.

For convenience, I wanted a smartphone app. So I bought an annual subscription to PaperKarma for $24.99. You can also buy a monthly plan for $3.99.You take a photo of the mailed item, then algorithms try to identify the sender based on the brand or logo on the envelope. You can manually correct any errors, and you can instantly send the advertiser an opt-out request via the app.

The 15-person company says it has 100,000 businesses in its database so far. “PaperKarma is more like a concierge service,” says Jeff Treichel, the company’s CEO. “We’re adding thousands of new mailers to our database every month. If you’ve got a problem, we’re phoning or emailing these people directly on your behalf.”

How did it work?

Not all my junk mail stopped. I’m still getting a trickle of mailings from businesses. Rather than junk mail every day or so, it’s closer to once or twice a week. I expect it will be a few more months before my various opt-out requests take hold.

And some junk mail will continue: Local mailings such as coupons and grocery fliers addressed to “Current Resident,” as well as political candidates’ campaign materials (protected by the First Amendment), are not blockable.

Reducing the waste of paper was easier than I imagined. I’ll never stop the junk mail altogether, but my only regret is I didn’t try years earlier.

Below are the relevant links mentioned in the article:

Link for DMA Choice: http://consumer.ftc.gov/now-leaving?external_url=http%3A%2F%2FDMAchoice.org&back_url=https%3A%2F%2Fconsumer.ftc.gov%2Farticles%2Fhow-stop-junk-mail

Link for Optout Prescreen: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/

Catalog Choice: https://catalogchoice.org/

Paper Karma: https://www.paperkarma.com/

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