How to Get Your Name off Mailing Lists

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Junk mail represents a significant part of the American mailstream. Many postal service customers, however, do not want junk mail delivered to them and just throw it away. With some concentrated effort, you can eliminate or drastically cut down on the amount of unsolicited mail that shows up in your mailbox.

Contact the Direct Marketing Association (see Resources), and register for its Mail Preference Service. Your name will be placed in a delete file that direct mail marketers use to update their own mailing lists. Allow about three months after you register before you start seeing a noticeable decline in junk mail.

Call the customer service department of individual companies that send you junk mail. Ask to be removed from the company's mailing list. Have the mailing label with you when you call so you can relay exact names and codes from the label.

Tell mail-order companies from which you regularly order products not to give or sell your name to other companies. Do the same for any religious, political, professional and charitable organizations that you may contribute to, as well as for credit card companies, banks, schools and utility companies.

Avoid sending in warranty registration cards. You'll still be covered by the warranty, but the company won't use it as an invitation to send you more information on its products.

Buy a 'stop junk mail' kit. For a price, you'll receive the materials you need to notify a limited number of the largest mailing list companies that are responsible for junk mail. Although this may be just the tip of the iceberg, it can protect you from future junk mail.

Get an unlisted phone number, or at least decline to list your address. Some mailing lists are formulated from names and addresses as they appear in telephone books.

Avoid filling out change-of-address forms when you move. The U.S. Postal Service compiles a database of address changes to cut down on misaddressed mail, but many direct mail marketers subscribe to the database to keep their own lists current.

Contact your nearest post office, as a last resort, for forms you can complete to stop companies from sending you mail you don't want. If the mail continues, the companies may be subject to prosecution.