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Reduce Your Junk Mail

Reduce Your Junk Mail

Some say few good deeds ever go unpunished. This old adage is surely true when it comes to the deluge of junk mail the average consumer receives on any given day.

If you are a person who conscientiously pays your bills and, as a result, enjoys a good credit history, your name and address have already been sold and distributed by numerous "consumer reporting agencies." Commonly known as "credit bureaus," these businesses compile credit information about you and then sell the information to employers, insurers, other businesses and, yes, credit card companies. Your efforts to manage your money and credit responsibly have now made you a prime target of every financial institution and business that issues credit cards. Now even your mailbox needs an addition.

The good news: there are steps you can take to decrease the number of unwanted solicitations you receive and, at the same time, decrease the waste and resource demands that all that mail creates.

Credit Card and Insurance Solicitations

To remove your name and address from national credit bureau lists for unsolicited credit card and insurance offers that come in the mail, call 888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688). Calling the "opt-out" line, or visiting their website, will allow you to remove your name from lists sold by the major credit reporting agencies for a period of five years or permanently, depending on the amount of time you choose. You can also call the number or visit the website if you would like to opt back in to receiving pre-approved credit offers. 

Keep in mind that opting out of pre-approved credit offers will only stop solicitations based on lists provided by the major credit reporting agencies. Opting out will not stop solicitations coming from other sources, such as charitable organizations, alumni associations, or companies that you already do business with. To stop these additional solicitations, you must contact each source directly and request that your name be removed from their mailing lists. 

General Junk Mail

To rid your mailbox of general junk mail, contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  This organization is made up of members who market goods and services directly to consumers using direct mail, catalogs, telemarketing, magazine and newspaper ads, and broadcast advertising. The DMA has a Mail Preference Service, which allows you to opt out of receiving direct mail from companies that participate in the DMA's service. The Association also provides an Email Preference Service, which may help reduce unsolicited commercial email ("spam").  To add your name to the Mail Preference Service list and reduce the amount of "junk" mail you receive, you can register online, or complete the mail-in form on the DMA website, print it out, and send it to:

Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512

Registration online is free, although you will be asked to provide a credit card number to confirm your identity. Registration by mail will cost $1, which is payable by check or money order (made payable to "DMA"). 

To register for the DMA's Email Preference Service, visit their website. Like the Mail Preference Service, registering with the DMA's Email Preference Service will only reduce commercial email sent from merchants who participate in the DMA's service. It will not reduce spam email messages from non-legitimate sources. The best advice to deal with spam email is to delete all email messages from sources you do not recognize. Do not even open these emails, as doing so can put you at risk for unwittingly downloading computer viruses and other "malware." 

And remember, legitimate businesses and government agencies will never send you emails asking you to provide personal identifying information.  If you get an email like this, delete it immediately.

Contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division

If you have a consumer complaint, please contact the to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form