How to Decipher Between Important Bills and Marketing
Full Mail Box

Marketing Mail: How to Decipher Between Important Bills and Marketing

Is your mailbox cluttered with catalogs and credit card offers? Well, imagine my 96 year-old grandmother checking her mailbox and receiving offers for warranties for a refrigerator that she bought 10 years ago and a letter regarding a line of credit that she hasn’t used in several years. Explaining to her that she is not obligated to purchase any additional warranties and that she did indeed pay her line of credit in full many years ago has been a constant challenge for my family.
Junk mail is unwanted advertising that arrives in your postal mailbox along with the mail you really want or need. While it is nearly impossible to eliminate all junk mail, you can take steps to reduce the amount of junk mail that you receive. Cutting down on some of your junk mail will take some time and will require some legwork. The hope of the senders of this unsolicited mail is that the marketing will persuade you to buy, donate, subscribe or invest.
There are a variety of strategies you can use to omit your name from the direct mailing list:
DMA Choice (National Mailing Lists)
If you want to be taken off as many national mailing lists as possible, your first step is to contact the Direct Marketing Association’s DMA Choice program. DMA Choice represents about 80% of the total volume of marketing mail in the United States. When you register, your name and address are placed in a “do not mail” file, which is updated monthly. DMA members are required to update their list at least quarterly, and some do it monthly. You must re-register after three years.

  • Register online. You may sign up online at the DMA choice website There is no fee for online registration.
  • Pre-approved Credit Offers. Opt out of pre-screened credit offers. You can substantially reduce the number of pre-screened, pre-approved, credit card applications you receive by calling 888-567-8688, or sign up online at
  • Warranty Registration Cards. Avoid sending warranty registration cards. You will still be covered by the warranty, but the company can’t use your information to send out other products. If you decide to send the registration card, include only minimal information such as name, address, and date of purchase and product serial number. For some products you may want the company to have a record of your purchase in case there is a safety recall.
  • Company Mailing Lists. Opt-out of individual company’s mailing lists. The term “opt-out” refers to methods by which an individual can avoid receiving unsolicited products or service information. Contact the customer service department of companies that send you junk mail and ask to be removed from the company’s mailing list. It is helpful to have the mailing label or envelope so that you can relay exact names and codes on the label. Let them know you not only want to be off their list, but you don’t want them providing your contact information to other companies. You should try doing this in writing.
  • Online information and E-mail Lists. Don’t provide personal information (address, phone number) on the Internet unless absolutely necessary. Always review the website’s Privacy Policy regarding the use of your personal information. Many websites will share your information with their “affiliates,” which means anyone willing to pay for it. This could result in more junk mail, commercial e-mails and phone calls. The DMA offers the E-mail Preference Service (EMPS), which allows you to remove personal (not business) email from a national list.

In closing, the key to stopping unwanted advertising mail being delivered to your home is getting your name off the mailing list. Of course that’s a lot easier said than done, and with literally thousands of commercial lists, putting forth the work to have your name removed may seem a waste of time. Believe me I understand, but if a little effort on my end means less junk mail in my mailbox, it’s worth it.