Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cut the Junk

I have always been a big fan of mail.  As a kid, I looked forward to picking up the mail and sorting through it.  I’ll admit, there wasn’t much going on where I grew up.  I even considered a career as a postal worker with a mail delivery route.  How great would that have been?  Eventually I dreamed a bit bigger, but I still love everything about sending and receiving mail – stationary, stamps, invitations...  But there is one type of mail that I’ve come to dread – junk mail.  Junk mail is the worst – it’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for you! 

Follow these instructions, invest 30 minutes, and you’ll see a dramatic reduction in the junk mail hitting your mailbox and cluttering your home. 

Credit Card Applications
I have to admit that for a while after the Great Financial Crisis, I was flattered that companies still wanted to give me credit cards.  But that can lead to trouble, so go to www.OptOutPreScreen.com.  You can remove your name from the lists that mortgage, credit card, and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations.  It’s a centralized website run by the four major credit bureaus in the United States:  Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion.  Follow the opt-out procedure for each adult member of your family. 

Bulk Mail
To get rid of most of the pesky bulk mail, register with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  DMA will list you in its database in the “Do Not Mail” category.  To add your name to the list, register online at www.DMAChoice.org or download a mail-in form on the website.  Be sure to list each name receiving mail at your address, including misspellings.

Catalogs
Catalogs can quickly get out of control, especially if you enjoy shopping as much as I do.  There are a few options to eliminate unwanted subscriptions. 
  • Catalog Choice is a free website that allows you to register and choose the catalogs you wish to stop receiving.  Opt-out requests will be sent to those catalogs on your behalf.
  • When you make a purchase from any catalog, your name and address are likely handed over to Epsilon Abacus Cooperative, an alliance of catalog and retail companies.  Abacus members routinely swap customer information.  To stop en-masse mailings, send an email to abacusoptout@epsilon.com and include your full name with middle initial, current address, and previous address if you have been at your current address fewer than six months.
  • Finally, there is the old reliable method.  As soon as you receive an unwanted publication in the mail, call the 1-800 number located somewhere on the piece and ask to be removed from the mailing list.  Keep the catalog in hand as they often need information from the mailing label. 
Coupons
Do you get those Val-Pak coupon books?  Click this link and copy your mailing label to stop receiving them. 

Charity Donations
If you contribute once a year to a charitable organization, ask them to send you only one donation request per year.  The American Institute on Philanthropy offers a sample letter that you can send to reduce mail solicitations

Phone Books
I really hope you aren’t still receiving phone books in the mail.  If you are, use the links below to put a stop to it.  And then call Urban Simplicity immediately to get your life under control!


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