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Last Updated: Oct 30, 2014

Junk Mail Reduction

Junk mail wastes an incredible amount of natural resources and contributes to climate change.

The average American home receives 1.5 trees in their mailbox every year in the form of unsolicited mail. That adds up to over 100 million trees cut down and over 28 billion gallons of water consumed to produce one year’s worth of America’s junk mail.

Both residents and businesses receive junk mail. Recycling your junk mail is good, but stopping it from coming in the first place is even better. Stopping junk mail is a form of waste reduction (better than recycling). This page gives you the tools you need to stop junk mail. Click on the appropriate link below to go directly to the section with the tools for you.

Who are you?

Resident
Business
 


Residential Tools for Junk Mail Reduction

Why Do I Get So Much Junk Mail?

Chances are your name is being added to a mailing list of some kind whenever you subscribe to a publication, place a credit card order, order items through the mail or the Internet, join an organization, donate to a charity, or enter a sweepstakes. In addition, there are companies who are in the business of selling your name to other companies who believe you may purchase their products or services.

How Do I Get Rid of It?

To reduce junk mail, you need to reduce access to your name and address so that it won't be traded, rented, or sold to companies who send you unwanted mail. You can hire a service that will contact companies in order to reduce the junk mail you receive, or you can do it yourself.

Junk Mail Reduction Services

If you are short on time or prefer the convenience of having someone else contact companies for you, there are multiple junk mail reduction services available. They'll take your and other family members' names off major direct mail lists, reduce unsolicited credit and insurance offers and unsubscribe you from unwanted catalogs. Go to http://www.catalogchoice.org/ or http://www.41pounds.org/ for more information.

Business listings should not be construed as an endorsement by the City of Palo Alto.

Do It Yourself

Follow these steps to remove your name from mailings lists and stop receiving junk mail.

Step 1 - Prevent junk mail before it starts.

When making donations, ordering items through the mail, or subscribing to a publication, include a note that instructs the organization or company to not lend, sell or trade your name to other mailing lists.

Step 2 - Reduce your current flow of junk mail.

Remove your name from mailing lists of companies who send you catalogs, sweepstakes entries, and coupons by calling, writing or going online and requesting that your name be taken off their list.

  • Most catalogs include a toll-free number. If so, call and request that your name be removed from their mailing list (it will take a few months for your name to exit their mailing system).
  • If you receive unsolicited flyers, newspapers or advertising circulars, call the subscription department, or the company's information number and ask them to remove your name from their list.
  • Some junk mail is marked "address correction requested" or "return postage guaranteed." If your mail has this wording, return it unopened to the sender by writing "Refused-return to sender" on the envelope.

If you chose to write, your letters or postcards should include the following information:
  • Your name – be sure to include any variation of your name that you find on your unwanted mail
Example:
Linda Ann Brown
Linda A. Brown
Linda Brown
L. A. Brown
L. Brown
  • Your address - including city, state and zip code
  • This message:
    "I am instructing you NOT to LEND, SELL, or TRADE my name to any other organization for its mailing lists. I want to reduce the amount of paper and resources being spent to generate unwanted mail."
  • Sign your name and date the card

Send separate cards for each person who receives unwanted mail at your address.


Companies to Contact
  • Direct Mail - The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) charges a $1 fee to be taken off their master list, if the request is sent via mail. There is no fee for online requests. DMA is the single largest provider of direct mail lists.

DMAchoice
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
Online: http://www.dmachoice.org/

  • Valassis - Register with Valassis every five years and whenever you move.

Valassis Direct Mail, Inc.
Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 249
Windsor, CT 06095
Phone: (888) 241-6760

Online: http://www.valassis.com/1024/Contact/contact_home.aspx

  • Harte-Hanks Direct Marketing - Contact Harte-Hanks to be removed from the Pennysaver mailing list.

Harte-Hanks Direct Marketing
Attn: Consumer Preferences
c/o Pennysaver
2830 Orbiter Street
Brea, CA 92821
Phone: (800) 422-4116

  • Val-Pak Savings Coupons - Val-Pak maintains regional lists, but not a central one. Send your request to the address printed on the envelope you receive. If you receive the blue envelope you can also remove your address from their website at: www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm
  • Credit Card Offers - The credit bureaus offer a toll-free number that enables you to “opt-out” of having pre-approved credit offers sent to you for five years. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit http://www.optoutprescreen.com/ for more information.
  • Sweepstakes Publishers Clearinghouse (800) 645-9242.
  • Junk Faxes - Stop junk faxes by contacting the sender of the faxes. If you are unsuccessful, file a complaint with:

Consumer Information Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 – 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: (888) 225-5322
http://fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/unwantedfaxes.html

Step 3 - Recycle the junk mail you do receive.

Some unwanted mail will undoubtedly get through, so please recycle it!

Step 4 - Additional Tips for Reducing Junk Mail

Post Office Change-of-Address Cards
The Post Office rents the information from change-of-address cards to private businesses. This is how national list brokers, credit bureaus, and others may get your name in the first place. As an alternative solution, send out your own postcards announcing your new address to those whose mail you want to receive. You can also ask the Post Office to hold your mail for pick up until everyone knows your new address.

Warranty Cards
It isn't necessary to complete warranty cards to be covered by warranty. The only reason to return a warranty card is to find out about product recalls. If you want to return the card for that reason, only provide your name, address, and product serial number.
 

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Business Tools for Junk Mail Reduction

Dealing with unwanted mail can be a drain on the time and resources of your business. Anyone who works in an office can see how much unwanted mail arrives daily and a significant amount of time can be spent handling it. This includes mail that employees don't want, duplicate mailings and mailings to employees who are no longer there. The problem has gotten so bad that some businesses don't even allow Standard Mail (formerly known as Third-Class Mail) to be distributed to employees. Instead, they instruct the mailroom to recycle it all. Even then, it wastes the time of the mailroom staff. So, if your unwanted mail is multiplying like rabbits, reduce it with these junk mail reduction strategies!

How Do I Get Rid of It?

Most mailers want a written request for removal from mailing lists.

Preventing Junk Mail Before It Starts

  • For registration at conferences, workshops, classes, sign-up sheets at meetings, entry forms or whatever - use name, phone, e-mail, but no address.
  • Subscribe electronically to newsletters, magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • Place some standard language on purchase orders, such as, "In the interests of reducing waste, do not add this name or address to mailing lists, or share this name or address with other mailers through mail list sales or trades".
  • Be discriminating when giving out your business card. That's one way businesses develop mailing lists.
  • Ask those receiving incoming calls to your business to screen callers who ask for your company's address, zip code, name of the senior buyer, etc. Some callers may have a good reason for requesting such information, but many just want to add your business to a mailing list.

Reducing Junk Mail After It's Multiplied

Removal From Individual Company Mailing Lists

This does not need to be an elaborate system, but can be as simple as a brief written or stamped note. Here are 3 easy steps to reduce the unwanted mail:

1. Create a Post-it note with the words "REMOVE FROM MAILING LIST" written or rubber- stamped on it.

2. Look through the unwanted letter, catalog, periodical, etc. for a fax number for the company sending the unwanted mail. In the case of a catalog or periodical, the fax number is usually located on the inside cover or first couple pages. If there's not a fax number, there is probably a phone number and a quick phone call can get you the fax number.

3. Tear off the page from the publication that has the address label on it or use the envelope in which the mail was received, place the Post-it note above the address label and fax it off to the company. You can reuse that same Post-it note over and over again!

This method can be used for reducing mail on an individual basis or your company can place someone in charge of your "Junk Mail Crusade." Often there are several employees receiving junk mail from the same mailer. The "crusader" can sort through the junk mail by mailer and remove several employees at once. Mail sent to terminated employees can also automatically be forwarded to the person in charge of the junk mail so the mailers can be notified.

Removal From Two Major Business Mailing Lists

The two companies listed below compile information on businesses and sell that information to other businesses for direct mail purposes.

Dun and Bradstreet (D&B)

An authorized representative of your business can request a delisting verbally or in writing. According to D&B, the delisting will result in the permanent removal of your business information from marketing directories, publications and/or mailing lists. To request a delisting, call the D&B Customer Service Center at (800)333-0505 or send an email to custserv@dnb.com.

InfoUSA

On letterhead, request your business be removed from their mailing lists. The letter should read at the top: “Attention – Business Update Department.” The letter should include the complete business name, address and telephone number; the name and title of the person requesting the deletion; and that person’s signature. The letter can be faxed to (402) 331-0176 or mailed to InfoUSA , P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE 68127.

What Doesn't Work

Writing "Return to Sender" and returning junk mail back to the sender does not remove you from mailing lists. Only First-Class Mail and mail marked "Return Service Requested," "Change Service Requested," or "Postmaster Send Change of Address to" will be sent back to the original mailer at their expense. Much of the unwanted mail your business receives is NOT First-Class but is rather Standard-Class or Package Media-Class which does not include return to the original mailer or forwarding services. The Post Office will just dispose of the mail.

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Last Updated: May 16, 2013