This article was last updated on March 17
I get so much junk mail nowadays – Credit Card Offers, Foreclosure Assistance Scams, Magazine offers, etc – that it is sometimes hard to find the real mail amongst all the junk. I read somewhere that by reducing your junk mail for 5 years, you’ll conserve 1.7 trees and 700 gallons of water, and you’ll gain about 350 hours of free time! This got me thinking of ways I could deal the amount of junk mail I receive and measures I could/should have taken earlier:
1. Mail the junk back. This is becoming my favorite method to get back to these junk mailers – because they bear the costs. If they include a reply paid envelope, I put a”post-it” (those yellow sticky bits of papers for my non-US readers) with a note saying “DO NOT MAIL ME ANYMORE OFFERS”. Yes I use capital letters. This seems to have worked with the credit card offers to some extent. If they do not include a reply paid envelope, I put a post-it with the same message in the envelope they sent the offer in and on the front write “Return to Sender – Wrong Address.” Knowing a few folks who work in postal system – this works! The only catch is that you can only return to sender for US addresses.
2. Call them and tell them to stop sending the junk mail. You don’t need a new credit card every week. However finding the right number to call these mass mailer’s is much harder than it seems, especially since most companies that do mass mail campaigns outsource this activity. But by law if you tell them to take you off their mailing list, they have to.
3. Be careful to whom you give your home address and read the privacy/confidentially policies when signing up for any type of subscription. Like many people I subscribe to a number of magazines and in most cases I sign up for the subscription on-line or via a free magazine portal. Because a single company normally owns a whole bunch of magazines (syndicated), they share their customer data to drive sales of their other magazines. For example a person subscribing to Money magazine, will then be pitched other finance magazines owned by the parent company (e.g. Fortune, also owned by Time Warner). The thing you have to be really careful of, which will normally be in the fine print, is that your personal information is not shared or distributed to third parties without your consent.
4. Report persistent junk mailers to “various do not mail” lists. But just be mindful that unlike the do not call list set up by the federal government, there is no such think for regular “snail” mail. You have to go through a private third party service for this – who will charge you a fee and your address details will be added to yet another mail database.
There you have it – some solutions to dealing with my junk mail problem. Reduce your mail clutter, save the environment and cut out the junk.
Do you have any other good ideas that have worked for you to reduce your junk mail?