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Junk Mail - USA only

Here's a useful resource if you're having unsolicited junk mail problems. Surprisingly, telling the companies to stop doing it actually works! My father-in-law was getting up to 25 junk mails per day, mainly sweepstakes, and just writing to the major marketing companies put an almost total stop to it in about a month. Now he gets maybe one or two every few days if that.

A lot of these mails deliberately target elderly people who can be easily misled or confused or encouraged to mislead themselves. Crucial conditions are concealed in small print that even a young person would need a magnifying glass for. And some of these can be really very nasty indeed. I think the worst ones I've seen are asking for a really small amount of money in return for some sort of document: maybe a couple of bucks. But tucked away is the message that by sending the money, you are agreeing to have a considerably larger amount deducted from your bank account in perpetuity.

Political marketers constantly write to elderly people asserting that they are about to lose their social security income unless they donate to some lobbying organization, or that the current President - regardless of who it happens to be - needs to be prevented from acting against you (well, don't they all?) but his opponents are poor and need a great deal of money to have any influence. There's a great deal of really mean, sneaky behavior and everyone seems to be in on the act. Mail arrives from as far afield as Canada, Holland and China. A lot of it is carefully designed to convince an elderly person that they're looking at an official document - there are no ends to the dodges these people will use, and they remain only barely on the right side of the law.

In addition there are all those "you have been pre-approved" mails from credit card companies, you can stop all those.

Even if you're not elderly or otherwise disadvantaged and you think you're smart enough to spot a phony, be very, very careful. The classic "419" scam, for instance has caught many people both online and through the mail, just Google for it and see.

You can put a stop to most junk mail by sending a request to the right organizations. Here is a useful web page:

http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm

In fact the whole site is useful: http://www.privacyrights.org

And for fuller information on stopping the junk, a good web site to read is Junkbusters, at http://www.junkbusters.com.

You can't stop some scams this way, as the people running them are not members of any organization that's recognized by the law. They're the type that will send you personal letters, offering you money for doing them small favors. And there are other legitimate but still unneeded marketing companies which aren't included in the trade organizations and have to be written to individually. By and large though, using the information at the sites listed above will solve a great many of your junk problems.

A few years back the government wanted to curb junk mail but was met with intense hostility by the marketing organizations (who would have guessed?). One of their arguments, as I recall, was that people were entitled to know the amazing opportunities and unbeatable offers available to them, while the humble marketing companies were just the messengers, delivering a few billion mails for good causes. Well hey, guys, we can take that heavy load from you right now, no problemo.

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  • over 1 year ago
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What a great tip! I get sooo much junk mail I've just accepted it as a part of having a mailing address, but this is a much better solution. I read somewhere once that Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation own many of the coupon and junk mail (direct mail advertising?) companies, so it would make sense that even though they are spamming us, they are real companies and have to abide by the law if we ask them to stop.

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Terrific find :) I just went to that site and hopefully now I won't get any more junk mail. I am so sick of people trying to trick me into buying something.

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Thanks, and yes it will definitely make a dent in your junk mail, though you have to allow three months for all the companies to update their mailing lists. And if you continue to get a few mails after that, don't forget to tell those companies individually that your preference is to receive no mail. Maybe get back to us in a few months and let us know how well it worked?

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Thank you Chris. After reading your writing about the junk mail I finaly started opening and reading them. All of them so far had the option for unsubsrition or e-mail removal. Like you said it will take me a while to notify them as they come or put in writing if the e-mail respond does not work.

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You're welcome :) The DMA is the source of much of the nuisance. Go to https://www.dmachoice.org/, register and hit a few buttons to stop all magazines, catalogs and credit offers. Remember to also look for "other mail offers" and hit the button to stop that lot, as well. They're probably the bulk of your junk.

If you'd like to read about the advantages of junk mail as described by the DMA you can go here: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/static/learn_more.jsp. You might not agree, but it's good to make an informed choice.

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After I started reading them, yes they are realy not junk and it gives the opportunity to "pick and choose" and most likely find your "niches" but it is good that mechanism has been developed for "picking and choosing" because like Sophie mentioned earlier I had started living with them, just my blocked e-mail list has gotten a mile long.

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