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You might think junk mail would be a thing of the past by now. Alas, the volume of unsolicited mail still seems downright 20th century.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to stem its flow to your mailbox.
It’s true that there is no one action you can take to stop all junk mail. But if you take all three of the following steps, you should see significantly less unwanted mail this year.
1. Stop prescreened offers
If you receive but don’t want preapproved offers for credit cards or insurance — also known as prescreened offers — visit OptOutPrescreen.com and opt out of these offers. The website is maintained by major credit-reporting companies.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows credit-reporting companies to share your information with lenders and insurers for the purpose of prescreened offers. But this federal law also gives you the right to opt out of prescreened offers.
You can choose between opting out for five years or permanently, as we detail in “How to Instantly End Credit Card Junk Mail Forever.”
2. Opt out with your financial institutions
Federal law also allows financial companies like banks to share their customers’ information with certain third parties for specific purposes.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) details this on its “Privacy Choices” webpage. Privacy notices that you should receive from your financial institutions at least annually also detail the institutions’ information sharing practices as well as opt-out instructions.
Federal privacy laws give you the right to opt of some but not all sharing of your information by financial companies, meaning you can limit the extent of that sharing.
The FDIC explains:
“These laws balance your right to privacy with financial companies’ need to provide information for normal business purposes. … you cannot opt out and completely stop the flow of all your personal financial information.”
If you receive a privacy notice from a financial company, follow the opt-out directions on the notice. Otherwise, the FDIC notes that you can contact a company and ask for instructions on how to opt out.
3. Fine-tune your direct mail
The Data & Marketing Association (DMA), a trade group formerly known as the Direct Marketing Association, maintains a consumer website called DMAchoice.org to help you manage the direct mail that you receive.
According to the site, direct mail includes:
- Credit offers
- Magazine offers
- Other mail offers
“You can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category — or from an entire category at once,” the website says.
Registering with DMAchoice.org is not free, though. It entails a $2 processing fee.
Alternatively, you can register by mail, but you will have fewer options for customizing your direct mail and it’ll cost you $3.
Have you ever used any of these routes to limit your “junk” mail? Let us know by commenting below or on Facebook.