How to Reduce Junk Mail

by Devanshu Mehta

While junk email is harder to deal with, the much older problems of junk mail are slightly more within our control in the US. While the steps below will not reduce your junk mail load to zero, it will make a difference. It has for me and the “Federal Trade Commission recommends them”:http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/prescreen.htm as well.

* If you receive tons of unsolicited credit card offers in the post, the trouble is that the credit reporting agencies have sold your information to whoever would pay. The government has had them set up a “web site to opt out”:https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ of all such offers forever (or opt-in, if you have lost your mind). The strange thing is that the agencies actually “commissioned a study [pdf]”:https://www.optoutprescreen.com/UnsolicitedCreditOffers2004.pdf – for the benefit of the FTC and consumers, I suppose- that demonstrates that the unsolicited offers are actually _beneficial to consumers_ and more importantly, _beneficial to corporations_. If you are skeptical of giving your information to that web site- and you should be- know this: the “FTC recommends it”:http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/prescreen.htm and make sure the URL says ‘optoutscreen.com’ and has ‘https://’ preceding it instead of a regular ‘http://’.
* The rest of the junk mail is trickier. While it is impossible to stop it all, you can make a dent. Among the direct mail marketing companies, some of them have chosen to self-regulate themselves; probably in fear of government intervention. The have formed the Direct Marketing Association and allow you to opt out of all direct post _that is sent by their members_. This is clearly not all junk mail, but a significant amount. So, you can “go to the DMA web site”:http://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailinglist and get yourself off the list. Except, there is a catch. You have to do it by post, if you want to do it for free. If you want to do it online, _they charge you $5_. Outrageous, but at least it is possible to do it at all.
Enjoy! [thanks to Get Rich Slowly]

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