How to Get Rid of Junk Mail

Five Parts:Stopping Unwanted MailersStop Mail Addressed to Someone ElseCanceling Unwanted CatalogsOpting Out of Credit Card SolicitationsReducing Phone Books

Is your mailbox running over, full of stuff you don't want? Junk mail wastes tremendous amounts of paper, piles up on your table, wastes your time, and competes for your attention. Fortunately, with a small investment of time, you can stop the flow at its source. Soon, your inbox will be free of clutter, allowing you more efficient browsing.

Part 1
Stopping Unwanted Mailers

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    Write to the mail preference service (US) or the Mailing preference service (UK).[1][2] These do-not-mail lists are maintained by the major marketing associations that distribute the major mailing lists, but they do work. The US mail preference service will charge you one dollar ($1) to add your name to their opt-out list by mail, but it is free using their online form. In the UK, it's free of charge.
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    Avoid placing your address on surveys, raffles, and product warranty cards. If you do write your address or phone number, write alongside it something like, "Please do not sell or distribute my information, nor add to mailing lists." It's generally not necessary to send in warranty cards or "register" a warranty for the warranty to be valid, regardless of what the card may imply.
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    Ask individual senders to remove you from their lists. Some items are sent in such bulk that they go to every resident on a postal route. These are addressed to "Resident," "Our Friends At," or some variant. Your postal carrier cannot, by law, determine what you consider "junk mail". All "resident" mail must be delivered as addressed. You must contact individual mailers to have your address removed from their database. Look around on mailers for return addresses and phone numbers. Here are quick links to some common ones.
    • ADVO is responsible for the blobs of sales circulars and the little card with the missing children.
    • Call sweepstakes mailers like Publisher's Clearinghouse (phone 1-800-645-9242 or email with your full address and instructions to remove from mailing list. American Family Sweepstakes is another common solicitor of this type (phone 1-800-237-2400).
    • Pennysaver, Potpourri, and Redplum.[3] The online form does require a valid email address, but the confirmation requires no reply, so if you are concerned about your privacy, you can use a service such as Mailinator. You can also mail the entire back label with a request to be removed to 2830 Orbiter Street, Brea CA 92821-6224. Their circulation message listing these details can be reached at 1-800-422-4116, but it is a recorded message. Mail suppression of this publication is good for one year and they do not honor mail removal requests from third parties.
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    Request your name be eliminated from the county tax database. Many companies target specific areas based on neighborhood subdivisions or home values. By making your information confidential in the county and state databases you may eliminate quite a bit of junk mail.
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    Remind companies you do business with of your mailing and privacy preferences. If you do business with a company via mail services, it will put you on its contact list. So the first time you make a transaction (such as placing an order) with that company, ask to be put on its "in-house suppress" or "do not promote" lists. Tell the company not to "rent" or share your name with other companies.
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    Place a sign by your mailbox that reads "No Free Papers". Free papers and handbills are another form of unsolicited advertising that often plagues our front lawns, but most are not delivered through the mail. Many of the people who deliver free papers will simply stop once the resident has placed a sign near their mailbox that reads "No Free Papers." In the USA, it is illegal for anyone other than the letter carrier to put things in your mailbox.
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    Sign up to receive statements and bills electronically. They're not junk mail, but it does require paper and resources to mail them. Many businesses and banks now offer electronic notifications, which will significantly reduce unnecessary mail clutter.

Part 2
Stop Mail Addressed to Someone Else

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    Keep your address current. If you've moved recently, the mail can take a while to catch up with you. Make sure you call the USPS or fill out the online form to keep your address current.
    • Often, changing your address will reenlist you in various solicitation mailers you've previously opted out of. You may have to re-do them if you start getting mailers you've canceled.
    • You should not receive mail if the mail or the accompanying card is not addressed to you, but some bulk sales circulars may continue arriving on "auto-pilot" after you have canceled them. Remind your letter carrier politely that this matter is not addressed to you.
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    Return to sender. If you are getting first class mail for a former resident, you can write Return to Sender/Not at this address on the envelope and drop that envelope back in the mailbox.
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    Report deaths to the credit reporting agencies to avoid possible identity theft. Mail a copy of the death certificate to each of them:[4]
    • Equifax P.O. Box 105069 Atlanta, GA 30348
    • Experian P.O. Box 9530 Allen, TX 75013
    • TransUnion P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92634
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    Report deaths to the Direct Marketing Association (in the U.S.). This will halt the flow of most junk mail to someone who is deceased. Use the Deceased Do Not Contact Form.[5] Follow the instructions through the entire process, and be certain to verify the registration after you receive the email.

Part 3
Canceling Unwanted Catalogs

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    Call individual catalog companies or universities soliciting potential students and ask them to remove you from their mailing lists. Sometimes it will be the same toll-free number that you would call to make an order; sometimes it will be a separate "customer service" number. Look around on the back cover and the order form.
    • Call the university recruitment office and cancel the flyers. Whether you're a prospective student or you've long since graduated, these recruitment materials can be a pain. The best way to stop them is by calling the university recruitment office and requesting it be cancelled.
    • If you are a high school student already getting recruitment literature from universities, ask your counselor to help set things straight for you.
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    Prepare a response. Occasionally, the customer service people will ask why you want to be removed. Simply explain that you are not interested in the products offered or that you're not planning on attending this university. Be kind, but firm.
    • Have the catalog, or at least the mailing label from it handy when you call. Often they will request a tracking number or other code printed there.
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    Opt out on the website. Many catalog and mail-order companies offer opt-outs on their websites. If you prefer the convenience of a web form, look around the catalog or the company's website and you will often find one.
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    Opt out before it's sent. Many schools get your information when you take the PSAT, SAT, ACT, or other standardized test. When you sign up for such standardized tests, read the form carefully. Likewise, many mail-order businesses, especially printing houses that print checks and personalized stationery, often send other mail and sell the addresses of their customers. Read carefully when filling out any form to make sure you're not agreeing to receive catalogs.
    • CollegeBoard, the organization behind the PSAT, SAT, and AP tests, states that their "Student Search Service" program is voluntary [1]. ACT states in their privacy policy that you have a choice of whether to receive communications in excess of the required ones.[6]

Part 4
Opting Out of Credit Card Solicitations

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    Determine why you're receiving the solicitations. Generally, credit card companies purchases information from credit reporting agencies. These lists generally consist of people pre-approved for a credit card based on a particular criteria determined by the credit company.
    • These criteria are not, however, the same to determine whether or not you'll be approved for the credit card eventually, so often the "pre-approved" tag is somewhat misleading.
    • Make sure you're not agreeing to any mailing lists when if you use a credit agency to receive a credit report or a credit score.
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    Call 1-888-5 OPT OUT (or 1-888-567-8688). This one phone call tells all four major credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, Innovis, TransUnion, and Experian, to stop sending credit card offers. Listen to the options carefully on this automated number to opt-out for up to 5 years. You can also request to be permanently removed from their lists.
    • You can also also make the request using their online form.[7]
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    Call your credit card companies directly and ask them to stop sending you cash advance checks. Even if they come with your bill each month, cash advances usually start accruing interest immediately, so it's not a good idea to use them. If you do receive them and don't plan to use them, you should destroy them.
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    Keep up with it. The credit agency databases are consistently updated. Cross-referencing of the credit lists will also cause these solicitations to snowball. If you move or receive a credit score, these solicitations may start up again even if you've expressly canceled them. So don't wait, take action as soon as you start receiving unwanted credit solicitations.

Part 5
Reducing Phone Books

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    Pick one. If you live in a larger city, you may get phone books from multiple carriers during a single year. To stop them, or to receive only the one book you prefer to use, follow them to their source. Many have opt-out pages online now.
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    Pick none. Most yellow pages phone numbers are available online, so the best option for you might be opting out entirely. To opt out of a variety of phone books at once, go to Yellow Pages Opt Out.[8] Once you create an account, you should see a selection of phone books for your area. You can choose which ones you wish not to receive.
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    Recycle them. Most printed phone directories may be recycled with your regular paper recycling. They're also good for starting campfires or charcoal grills.


  • When calling, don't be rude to the person who answers the phone, even if you're annoyed about receiving something. He or she is paid to answer the phone and is not personally responsible for your receiving it. But do, if necessary, be persistent, in addition to being kind.
  • Keep a recycling bin or trash can by your mailbox or wherever you sort mail, so that you can immediately recycle any junk you do receive.
  • When all else fails, recycle the junk. If you have a shredder, anything printed with black and white ink is usually safe for the compost heap. You can also use them as kindling in your fireplace. If you're inclined toward crafts, you could also make paper or use your junk mail in collage or decoupage.
  • Sending junk mail back in the reply envelope may feel good, but it is not a particularly effective way to get off mailing lists. It is better simply to request to be removed.
  • Use an electronic calendar to set renewal reminders. If you learn that your removal request expires after a period of time, place a reminder to renew it in your calendar now. Most electronic and online calendars include reminder functions and can take dates far into the future.


  • You shouldn't have to spend money to get rid of junk mail. The junk mail removal kits you may see for sale generally don't offer anything you can't do on your own.
  • Don't put anything glossy or printed with colored ink in the compost heap or in the fireplace. It can release small quantities of toxic chemicals.

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