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Junk Mail: Ideas for Households

For many Hoosiers, opening the mail is an interesting part of the day. But some consider much of it "junk mail" — unwanted and unwelcome. If you are tired of the daily flow of unwanted mail, here are some simple steps to greatly reduce the pile.

Mail Preference Service

Households can significantly reduce their advertising mail by registering with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Mail Preference Service. It's easy to do, and you'll be reaching some of the biggest direct marketers in the country with a single letter. This service is good for five years. It works only for national mail, not local mail, and only for residential addresses, not businesses.

For more information, go to the DMA Web site or call (212) 768-7277.

Contact Individual Mailers

Not all companies use these national systems to purge their mailing lists. If you are still getting "junk" from persistent mailers, you can contact the company directly and ask to be placed in their "do-not-mail file." Look at the mail piece to see if there's a number to call, or write them a note, send them an E-mail, or use their Web site. Here are a few thoughts on what to say and do.

  • Sample language: "Please remove my name from your marketing database. In addition, please do not pass along my name to others through mail list sales or trades. Thank-you for your cooperation."
  • Be polite: Most mailers will make an effort to comply with your request — they get to improve their database and ultimately reduce their costs. Even if you are frustrated, you're probably just taking it out on a phone operator or staff person. If you don't get results, you can consider stronger language, or contacting company management.
  • Be prepared: Have the mailing label or catalog handy. Give them the exact match for your name and address. They might appreciate customer ID numbers or other internal identifiers.
  • Be patient: It may take some time to get your name and address out of their mailing cycle.
  • Be persistent: Keep trying. Drive home the message that your privacy is an important part of customer service. You do have the right to be left alone.

National Mailers

National advertisers compile and maintain large mailing lists of addresses nationwide, often for mailing coupons or local, weekly circulars. The publications are printed well in advance of their expected mailing date, so it usually takes six to eight weeks for your request to take effect.

  • Valpak © (Cox Target Media): You can remove your name and address from the Valpak mailing lists at the Cox Target Media internet site by filling out the online form or by calling Cox Target Media at (888) 797-1896.

Credit Card Offers

The nation's major consumer credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union -- established a toll-free number to get off lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations. The recording will ask for your social security number, full name, address and telephone number.


Or you can go to the OPTOUT site to get off of these lists of pre-approved credit card solicitations.

The service allows you to opt out for two years or permanently. No matter what you pick, you can "opt back in" at any time by calling this same number.

Disposal tip: Make sure to rip up the application form before you discard it. This helps prevent "identity theft" and protects your credit and your privacy.

Mail List Brokers

These firms provide national lists for non-financial data. Call the toll free numbers listed below to request that your name and address be removed from their mailing lists.

  • Experian: 1-800-228-4571 x4633, Wait through a long message about other options before leaving your name, address and phone number for opting out of Experian's compiled databases.
  • Polk Company: 1-800-464-7655, Ask for the "Polk Opt-out Line"

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