Getting rid of spam in your electronic mailbox is relatively easy. On the other hand, dealing with real paper junk occupying your postal mailbox day after day can be much more complicated.
If you’re trying to figure out how to stop junk mail right now, our complete guide will be your one-stop source of all the essential information you need to know.
This article reveals three simple methods that should help you stop at least 90% of all unsolicited marketing mail you’re receiving. Most of them are entirely free of charge, and they shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes of your time. You’ll see that avoiding unwanted mail can be pretty straightforward – in most instances; you can do it online directly from your computer or mobile device.
Continue reading to learn how to get rid of junk mail once and for all.
Junk mail: Where does it come from and why?
It might come as a surprise that paper mail still plays such an important role in our everyday lives in our digital era. Ever wondered why we are still getting all those magazines, catalogs, and offers in our mailboxes when we’re already being bombarded by the very same advertisements on the TV, radio, or online? And is it ever going to stop?
First, let’s admit that direct mail has some advantages and bright sides too (at least for the senders):
- It feels much more personal. It’s an ideal space for custom-made offers and promotions.
- It engages all your senses instead of just washing over you from TV or radio.
- No GDPR requirements.
- Unlike digital mail arriving into your private mailbox, a single paper mail usually reaches all members of a household. It also typically stays around the house for quite some time, which further increases the chance of response.
While nothing is for sure, it’s very likely that direct mail marketing will eventually disappear as we move on towards the more sustainable (and even more digital) future. Nevertheless, as for now, postal services and couriers are still delivering tons of advertisement mail to our mailboxes 7 days a week. If you’re reading this text, it most likely means that you find it annoying.
Why do people want to stop junk mail?
If you’re trying to find out how to stop junk mail from arriving in your mailbox, you’re surely not alone. After all, there are numerous good reasons for being irritated by this type of marketing. Here are just a few of them:
- It’s very annoying: Just the pure act of getting the junk mail out of your mailbox and putting it straight to the dustbin day by day can quickly become very irritating and energy-consuming.
- It occupies the place for your real mail: Sometimes, our mailboxes are so full of junk mail that it’s almost impossible to fit in some real mail like bills, important announcements, etc. Moreover, there’s always a risk of throwing an important mail unintentionally away when it’s mixed up with a bundle of junk mail.
- It’s an environmental disaster: If you consider how contemporary society shifts towards more sustainable, greener, and eco-friendlier solutions, it comes as a shocking surprise to see all the tons of paper used for junk mail. Opting out can also be seen as a way of sending out the message that it’s not right.
- It doesn’t work (mostly): How many times have you bought or ordered on the internet some product/service based on the direct advertisement from your mailbox? Some people even feel discouraged to buy products they have already associated with the annoying spam mail in their mailbox.
The statistics show that about 95% of all direct advertisement fails to lead to a response (nevertheless, keep in mind that this is still considered a high response rate in comparison with email marketing which has 0.12% response rate only).
Regardless of your reasons for trying to stop junk mail, the most important thing is to do it properly. Our guide brings you simple three-step instructions that should help you eliminate at least 90% of your current junk mail.
How to stop junk mail: 3 simple steps you can take right now
Before we elaborate on each of these options in detail, let’s first summarize the three simple steps you should take in order to stop junk mail:
- Use OptOutPrescreen to stop the prescreened credit and insurance offers
- Use DMAchoice to stop larger direct mailers and catalogs
- Stop most of the remaining direct and local mailers using PaperKarma and CatalogChoice
Now let’s focus on each of these steps in detail.
The first step – Use OptOutPrescreen to stop the prescreened credit and insurance offers
Whether you’re familiar with the fact or not, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows four large credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis) to access and share your credit status and history with various types of businesses and institutions you might be dealing with.
As a result, besides facilitating your communication with the businesses you’re directly approaching, you might also be receiving all sorts of preapproved credit card and insurance offers (so-called “firm offers”).
Although sometimes these firm offers can come in handy, most of the time, you’ll only get annoyed by all the unwanted endeavors. Thankfully, you can always exercise your right to opt out of these prescreen offers at OptOutPrescreen.com.
How to opt-out using OptOutPrescreen.com: Instructions
- The simplest and most convenient way to opt-out from receiving prescreened firm offers via OptOutPrescreen.com is by doing it online.
- All you have to provide is your name and address (social security number or DOB are only optional fields that can stay empty).
- Standardly, your opt-out request will stay in force for 5 years.
- If you cannot or don’t want to opt-out online, you can also reach OptOutPrescreen representatives via telephone (1-888-567-8688 or 888-5OPT-OUT)
- If you want to opt out permanently, you will have to send additional filled and signed forms via standard mail. Alternatively, you can just keep resending your temporary request every five years.
- The service is provided for free.
- The whole online procedure shouldn’t take more than a minute.
- It can take up to 3 months to see the results (= receive less junk mail).
The second step – Use DMAchoice to stop larger direct mailers and catalogs
The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) was founded in 1917. Initially, it was named Direct Mail Association. Since 2018, this association has merged with another similar union into a larger group known as the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
This association connects corporate and non-profit advertisers into a vast organization that is mainly expected to lobby on their behalf. Nevertheless, it also obliges its members to recognize various ethical standards, including respecting the consumer’s right to opt out.
If you want to submit your opt-out request to this organization, this should be conducted through the association’s mail preference system, which operates on the domain DMAchoice.org.
How to opt-out using DMAchoice.org: Instructions
- DMAchoice website contains opt-out forms for various types of marketing communication, including e-mail preference, telephone preference, and standard postal mail preference (junk mail).
- This website also allows you to add a name on the do-not-contact list (e.g, a diseased person or a person depending on you as a caregiver)
- Once you submit your requests, all the ANA members will be informed of your choice, and they will be expected to respect it.
- This procedure should be effective in less than a month – that’s how often ANA members must check their mailing lists and exclude anyone who has recently opted out.
- Note that this procedure will only work with members of the ANA (a complete list can be found here). Other companies will not be obliged to respect your request.
- You can opt-out from certain companies only or request to be opted out from all unwanted catalogs, magazines, bank offers, credit offers, retail promotions, etc.)
- These opt-outs are going to stay in force for 10 years.
- The service is associated with a one-time verification fee of $2.
- The whole procedure shouldn’t take more than one minute.
The third step: Use PaperKarma and CatalogChoice to stop most of the remaining mailers
If you’ve already tried both steps mentioned above, but the unsolicited mail keeps coming, it’s highly probable that you’ll have to take your efforts one step further. Basically, you have only two choices here: you can either try communicating with each and every sender of the junk mail you’re receiving individually, or you can choose some advanced services that can make the process much easier – sometimes in exchange for a small fee.
The first option cannot be recommended unless you’re only dealing with a very few senders that can be tracked and approached almost effortlessly. Therefore, we would strongly suggest you to consider services such as PaperKarma and CatalogChoice, which facilitate the procedure. One of them is entirely free, the other comes with a small monthly fee. Let’s focus on each of them in detail:
PaperKarma is an innovative mobile application designed to help you stop junk mail when all other attempts fail. Unlike standard old-school databases, this app boasts a modern interface and super-convenient features that make the whole procedure very smooth and enjoyable. It has 100K+ direct mailers in its extensive database, tons of positive reviews, and responsive support. On the other hand, this service is not completely free.
How to opt-out using PaperKarma: Instructions
- First, you’ll have to download the PaperKarma app into your smart device.
- Create your account. You can take advantage of the PaperKarma free trial period. When it expires, you’ll be charged $3.99 per month. You can cancel anytime.
- To stop any type of junk mail, just take a photo of the sender’s logo. If it’s in PaperKarma’s database, you will be able to send your opt-out request instantly. Just enter the name and address you wish to delete from a mailing list.
- This database is one of the largest of its kind in the whole country, and it contains all types of mailers including charities, non-profit organizations, credit issuers, insurance companies, banks, etc.
- The company claims to resolve 90+% of all the submitted requests successfully. Moreover, PaperKarma constantly adds new mailers to the list based on the requests of its users.
- At the moment, there is no PaperKarma desktop application.
- With a single account, you can opt out an unlimited number of names and addresses, so one account can serve a whole family. You can also stop junk mail from arriving at your address for the previous owners or tenants.
- If you are not completely satisfied with the results, PaperKarma offers a money-back guarantee.
- Your request should come into effect in 12 weeks at the latest.
CatalogChoice is a sophisticated non-profit online database containing approximately 10K direct mailers – mostly catalog senders from all over the country. It allows you to opt out from receiving their junk mail almost effortlessly directly from your computer or mobile device. It’s simple, efficient, and fast.
How to opt-out using CatalogChoice: Instructions
- Open your CatalogChoice account.
- Search for the catalog/direct mail you would like to stop.
- Submit an opt-out request for the particular sender with your name and address.
- CatalogChoice is run by a non-profit organization – ‘The Story of Stuff Project’.
- The service can be used for free, but donations are always welcome.
- Your request should come into force in 2-3 months. You might need to send your requests repeatedly with the new season or year.
- The whole procedure usually takes up to 5 minutes.
Is there junk mail that can’t be stopped this way?
As you’ve probably already noticed yourself, each of our steps involves some specific array of junk mail that can be prevented. Nevertheless, some sources of unwanted mail simply don’t fit into any of these boxes.
The good news is that many of them still can be stopped – it just takes more effort and time, since it has to be done individually with each of the involved companies. All you have to do is comb through the sender’s website (or the junk mail itself) and look for some tiny announcement instructing those who wish to stop receiving mail from the company.
In case you’re not able to find any such mention, you can simply send a letter (or an email) explicitly requesting to be deleted from any mailing list the company might possess. Something like “Add me to your Do Not Mail list, please!” should definitely work.
How to Stop Junk Mail: Frequently Asked Questions
Can you throw away someone else’s junk mail?
Opening, hiding, or destroying mail addressed to someone else is a federal crime, even if it’s just junk mail. If you want to get rid of someone else’s junk mail, it’s much better to prevent it from arriving. Apps and platforms like PaperKarma allow you to opt-out an unlimited number of names and address combinations from 100,000+ mailing lists. This convenient service also allows you to stop junk mail delivered to your address for an old tenant or owner of the property.
Does USPS make money on junk mail?
Whether we like it or not, junk mail is an important source of income for postal services. More than 77 billion direct marketing mail pieces are delivered by USPS annually. Even though the revenue for each of the deliveries is very small, the vast amount of junk mail distributed every day all over the country makes it eventually quite profitable.
Moreover, even if USPS wanted to spare you from all the junk, they are not authorized to do that. Once the mail has your name and address on it, they are legally obliged to deliver it to you.
Can you refuse junk mail?
Yes, you can refuse any mail given that you have not opened it yet. Once you’ve open the envelope or box, you are obliged to deal with the mail on your own.
If you want to refuse mail that was already delivered to your postbox, you can also return it to the sender using a special stamp reading REFUSED: RETURN TO SENDER. Alternatively, you can just write the exact phrase over the envelope or box. Nevertheless, you might need to pay a return shipping fee.
Do ‘no junk mail’ signs work
If you don’t want to receive any junk mail, you can try putting a ‘NO JUNK MAIL’ sign on your postbox. Although the results cannot be guaranteed (some individuals simply won’t respect these signs when distributing junk mail anyway), most people claim that the amount of junk mail in their postboxes was at least significantly reduced.
What percentage of mail is junk mail?
The estimates differ. According to The New York Times, approximately 48% of all mail distributed by USPS consists of junk mail, whereas some experts state that an average American gets as many as 18 pieces of junk mail for every single piece of a standard mail.
Avoiding junk mail completely is nearly impossible, which means that most of us will have to deal with it one way or the other at some point. While many of us simply choose to ignore it and throw the junk away whenever it arrives, more and more people find this old-school marketing practice annoying and decide to do something about it proactively.
The good news is that most of the junk mail you’re currently receiving can be eventually stopped by using services such as PaperKarma.
We hope that this guide will help you get rid of as much junk mail as possible without any major obstacles and stresses. If you need some specific guidance, how about reading our guidelines on how to cancel your InStyle or Elle magazine subscriptions next?