How can I stop the barrage of junk mail?

Sorry if this has been asked before but I am looking for a painless answer.

I am planning to be away from my primary residence for almost two months next summer. Currently I get a barrage of junk mail, catalogs and donation requests. It’s a problem of my own making because I buy over the internet, am generous and live in a demographically desirable zip code.

I live in an apartment building with a mailbox that will fill up within 3 days. I don’t want to come back to a stack of mail that is 5 feet high, most of it junk. Is there something I can start to do to get this crap stopped before I go away?

What steps should I begin to take. Currently, at least 50% of my mail hits the trash before I even enter my apartment but that doesn’t seem to have any effect.

Certainly, others have left home for similar periods of time. What should be done?

You can contact your local postmaster and suspend home delivery of your mail for the time you’ll be away. Unfortunately, when you get back you’ll have to pick it all up and you’ll still have all that accumulated junk mail to deal with, but at least it won’t be piling up in front of your house as an advertisement to thieves to come on in.

Move and only give a forwarding address to important thinga. Honestly that’s the only way.


Contact them now to get your name/address removed from advertiser lists. Do this in addition to suspending your mail delivery your mail while you are gone.

Thanks, I did do that recently. Of course, as they admit, a lot of junk mailers are not affilliated with them.

I’m trying to be proactive and put a stop to the problem before I go away. All of the advice is appreciated and I will follow up on all reasonable suggestions.

Q.E.D. has the right answer. It’s no problem to have your mail held, although two months may be a little long. I do it every time I go on vacation, because my apartment’s mailbox can hold about two days of mail and the postman is not shy about “making it fit” after that.

Another thing you can do is put in a forward to have your mail sent to you. If you aren’t going to be in one place, you can forward it to a friend or relative.

Bulk/junk mail does not get forwarded, unless it has an endorsement saying something like “Change Service Requested”, “Address Service Requested”, etc. So your first class mail & periodicals will be forwarded to you or a friend. Unendorsed bulk/junk mail will be tossed out. When you get back, you won’t have a huge pile of junk waiting for you.

I’d get a trusted neighbor, apt manager or friend to come by and unload my Mailbox every couple days, saving the “good stuff” and recycling the “occupant” stuff. Or just give them a large box, and put everything in there.

They can also check in on your apt, water the pant, etc.

Do make an extra copy of your mailbox key for them, however.

How do you plan on paying your bills while you are gone? :confused:

The DMA opt-out thing works great. But it takes about 3 months before you see the effect.

The other thing to do is contact all your credit cards & magazine subscriptions & ask about their privacy policies & tell them you want to opt-out of their “partner” marketing. For about 5 minutes spent on an 800# with each you’d be amazed at how much crap stops coming. Again it’ll take 3-6 months for the effect to be fully felt, but it will be huge.

Another thing to do is to opt-out for unsolicited credit cards. That’s a separate program run by the three credit bureaus. There is an 800/888 number to call to do that. I’d suggest some careful Google research to find it since you need to give them some identity info that a phising site / 800# would love to get. So make sure you’re connected to the real thing first.

I live in a desirable zip code, have a stack of magazine subs & enough credit cards to play pinochle with, and get maybe 3 pieces of junk mail per week other than the no-address advertising circulars the PO is required to delivery to every house on the route.

It does work.

And definitely hold your mail while you’re gone, or forward it to a friend. Do NOT just let it pile up.

Thanks. I’m trying to put all of this advice in motion. Since I posted the OP I was also advised to call the catalog companies and ask to be removed from their mailing list. So far they all seem to be very cooperative. As the catalogs come in I put them in a pile, call the companies, then discard them. We’ll see if they follow through. It’s a PITA but I think it will be worth the hassle.

I did the “opt out” of credit card solicitation a long time ago because it was getting totally out of hand. It pretty much worked except I still get solicitation from banks where I have an account or companies that I do business with.

Now I’m almost looking at the process as a challenge. If I can get it down to 3 pieces of junk mail a week I’ll figure I’ve won.

I’m thinking of just paying a couple of months ahead on bills that are consistant or schedule an online payment ahead of time. I will have a laptop with me so I can pay bills through my bank online. I figure a credit balance is much more desireable than chancing late fees. (emphasis mine):

This will put you on what is known as the ‘nixie’ list. The credit bureaus all use the same list and are required to run data against it before sending out prescreen offers. I know that when Experian loads consumer data within four business days of processing it against the latest nixie list, which is (IIRC) updated weekly.

For about a month I took each of the credit card applications we received and scribbled “NO! No! NO” all over them and mailed them back to the senders in the pre-paid envelopes, along with the fliers they’d sent and any other miscellaneous junk mail I happened to have laying around.

Haven’t heard a peep.

And as soon as you update your address with your credit card company, you’ll start getting the junk mail again.

Yup. This is a junk mail equivalent of the “Do not call” list. Reptuable business do their mailings through bonded third-party mail processors who do the mail merges and then send the mail to the post-office. Getting on their removal list will help a great deal, but won’t stop everything.

Pointless (except if it makes you feel good).

Those pre-paid envelopes are processed by low-level employees, who have no access to the mailing list and no way to take you off it. In fact, often they are contractors at a mailhouse somewhere, not even at the credit card company.

They simply throw your creations into the trash. (They probably even call it “junk mail”.) Doesn’t do any more than annoy them, and waste their time. The executives at the credit card company who made the decision to mail this to you never even know about your reaction.

In fact, by inserting “other miscellaneous junk” into the reply mailer, you have made this an invalid response. (Just like if you had pasted the pre-paid mailer to a brick.) The mailing company can take such reply mailers to the Post Office, and get a refund of the pre-paid postage. So then you and all the rest of us taxpayers/Post Office customers eat that cost, and our postage rates go up again.

But as long as it makes you feel good!

As a postal employee, I have seen thousands of “creative” or abusive messages scrawled over return-to-sender articles. Trust me, they are not funny and they are not original.

Well, they are required to deliver them, but your carrier is likely to oblige you if you request to stop receiving them. Carriers will almost always have more circulars than needed for their route. The carrier does one of two things: Count out the required quantity before going on the route, or take the whole pile and bring back the extras.

If the carrier counts them out first, he’ll throw out the extras before going on the route. If he takes out the whole pile, he’ll have a stack to throw out when he gets back. So if five people have made it known they would rather not have circulars, the carrier is likely to not deliver fliers to those five. When he throws out his stack, nobody knows, since there are no addresses on them.

If you ask a postmaster about this, you will likely be told this is against USPS rules, which it is. However, most postmasters know this happens and they look the other way. Why not just throw out the circular at the PO when you know the customer will do it as soon as he gets it? Besides, the PO recycles the circulars. Also, other customers will let the circulars build up in the mailbox, which gets to be annoying.

What amuses me is when customers put unopened junk mail back in the box. They write “refused” or “stop sending me this junk” on it. The problem is since the mail is unendorsed junk, it will not be returned to the sender. It gets thrown out, and the junk just keeps on coming.

Well, annoying them and wasting their time were two of my goals - it seems only fair to return the favor.

But I’d always wondered what would happen if you attached a pre-paid label to a brick (or a bag of cat turds), that’s interesting.

The postal gods are getting their revenge on us now anyway. We’re receiving our neighbors’ mail, randomly. Sometimes it’s because the address # is the same (although the street is completely different); once, the address bore no resemblance to ours and wasn’t even the same zip code. I took it to the post office and dropped it into the box w/out writing anything on the envelope. Sucker came back to me a day later.

Any time I’ve used the prepaid envelope to reply (on the form that was supposed to go in it) “No thank you, and take me off this list” I have never hesard from them again.

Thanks for the tip. Ignorance fought again!