How to cut down on junk mail


Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

NEW YORK — Each American receives, on average, 10.8 pieces of junk mail each week. There's a good chance that much of that mail is made up of unsolicited credit-card offers, which, if they fall into the wrong hands, can make you vulnerable to identity theft. And that's not to mention the temptation such offers hold — temptations that can wreak havoc on our finances.

There is a way to stop unsolicited card offers and other junk mail: Contact the credit bureaus to opt out of receiving preapproved credit offers for two years. Just call the toll-free number 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688). You'll be asked for your personal information, including your name and Social Security number. Don't worry — it's completely confidential and safe.

You should also notify the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — directly. Let them know that you don't want your name or other personal information shared with others for promotional purposes.

You can also opt out of direct-mail marketing from many national companies for five years by registering with the Direct Marketing Association at www.dmaconsumers.org/offmailinglist.html. The DMA has an e-mail preference service, as well. While you won't be able to get rid of all spam, it may help reduce it.

Of course, unsolicited mail isn't the only nuisance Americans face when it comes to unwanted communication. And who hasn't received a telemarketer's phone call during dinner? Luckily, you can take advantage of the federal government's national Do Not Call registry. Once you register, you'll receive fewer telemarketing calls within three months, and your number will stay in the registry for five years. (You can renew it then.) Just visit www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.

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