Eliminate Unwanted Mail and Fight Identity Theft – 6 Tips

One of the things that can be overwhelming in my house is the accumulation of mail. Like so many of you, I have a busy life, and during the week the mail often gets brought in and piled on the kitchen counter – usually in several different piles so it’s spread all over the place.

I remember reading somewhere that nowadays on average we receive as much mail in a week as our grandparents received in a year, or something outrageous like that. And are we better off for it? I don’t think so! One example – thousands of cases of identity theft each year are related to the theft of people’s incoming mail such as pre-approved credit card and loan offers. Our grandparents did not have to worry about that!

So, here are some tips for cutting down on that unwanted mail:

1. Eliminate the pre-approved credit offers that are such a target for identity theft – call 888-567-8688 from your home phone or go to http://www.optoutprescreen.com to send a request over the internet to the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion). I submitted my request over the internet to opt out for a period of 5 years. It took me all of 30 seconds to do – less time than opening and then shredding one credit offer!

2. Eliminate your name from the Direct Marketing Association mailing list either by sending them a form or filling out a form on the web – both located at [http://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing#regform] (www.dmaconsumers.org). This will cost you $1 and it may take 3 to 6 months to see a reduction in direct marketing material.

3. Get off the List Broker’s lists. These take a little more time because they don’t have web or phone-based opt out forms, but you can write to each individually. These list brokers sell their mailing lists to all sorts of companies. Write to the following companies, provide your name and address, and ask them to remove you from their lists.

  • Dunn & Bradstreet, Customer Service, 899 Eaton Ave., Bethlehem, PA 18025
  • Metromail Corporation, List Maintenance, 901 West Bond, Lincoln, NE 68521
  • R.L. Polk & Co. – Name Deletion File, List Compilation Development, 26955 Northwestern Hwy,
    Southfield, MI 48034-4716
  • Database America, Compilation Department, 470 Chestnut Ridge Road, Woodcliff, NJ 07677
  • 4. Abacus and Acxiom are other direct marketing organizations, and you can opt out of their mailing list by following these directions:

  • To opt-out of the Abacus database, please write to Abacus, P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80038. Alternatively, you may send an email containing the same information to [email protected]. Include your full name (including any middle initial), your current address (and previous address if you have been at your current address fewer than six months). When you opt-out, your record will be suppressed from the Abacus Master File, ensuring your Abacus household record is not selected from the Abacus Database by other Abacus members.
  • Acxiom – For our marketing and directory products consumers may request opt-out by sending an e-mail to [email protected] or by calling 1-877-774-2094.
  • 5. For the mail addressed to “Resident” or “Occupant”, try opting out with Advo either by calling 888-241-6760 or by going to http://www.advo.com/consumersupport.html.

    6. The US Postal Service – When you move and fill out a change of address form with the USPS, they rent your forwarding information to a few dozen private businesses. Remember, more junk mail means more revenue for the USPS! So check with your post office for the best procedure, but instead of filing a change of address form you might want to notify people of your change of address on your own and have the post office hold your mail from the old address until everyone you want to know your new address knows it.

    Following these tips should eliminate a lot of the unwanted mail you receive on a daily basis and give you some added protection against identity theft. Additional resources for learning how to control both unwanted mail and unwanted telephone marketing are: http://www.fightidentitytheft.com and the book Scam-Proof Your Life: 377 Smart Ways to Protect You & Your Family from Ripoffs, Bogus Deals & Other Consumer Headaches (AARP) by Sid Kirchheimer.