4 Steps To Eliminating Junk Mail

junkCutting down on e-mail spam can be as simple as switching to a new e-mail address, using expendable “black hole” e-mail addresses when signing up on websites you don’t completely trust, or making sure your e-mail server is using Spam Assassin or some other whiz-bang spam killer.

But what about your physical home address?

Sure, you can make good use of P.O. boxes, CMRA’s, and even ghost addresses – but those strategies will only divert unwanted junk mail away from your main location. They won’t solve the large issue of getting the stuff in the first place.

That’s not to say I’m anti-direct mail. I’m not. In fact I like the pleasant surprise of getting an offer in the mail from time to time for something I’m interested in that I never would’ve known existed otherwise. And using targeted direct mail for your own business is just smart commerce.

But they keyword here is TARGETED. That means it’s something you’re going to be hot for the product before you even open the envelope. The problem is, most marketers don’t know the meaning of the word, and that’s why we’re harassed every day with a glut of “pre-approved” credit card offers and a slew of miscellaneous crap.

So here are 4 easy steps you can take to cut down on unwanted junk mail by at least 90%

Step #1. Opt-Out of Pre-approved Credit Card Offers

In credit card industry lingo, this is called the “opt-out prescreen.” How it works is the big 3 credit reporting agencies make a ton of money allowing companies to scan their data files looking for people with certain credit scores or other criteria. Then they buy the addresses and send you a stream of mail for the latest MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or American Express.

To make it illegal for them to use your data for these “pre-approved” offers, go to this website:

http://www.optoutprescreen.com

Then just follow the instructions. You have 2 options. The electroic opt-out lasts for 5 years and does not require a social security number. The other method makes you confirm your opt-out via mail and lasts “forever” though I don’t know exactly what “forever” really means to them.

The potential breach of security with these credit card offers is serious. Anyone could easily snatch some of them out of your mailbox when you’re not at home and glean personal info off them, which could then be used to open up fake accounts in your name. That’s just one reason of many why you should always shred credit card offers with a cross-cut shredder and definitely opt out of this service.

I did, many years ago, and have never gotten a single “pre-approved” offer since. The only people who can mail you after this are those with whom you already carry a card. For example, I have an American Express card, so I still get offers from American Express. Personally, that’s not a big deal to me and sometimes I even look at their stuff to see what they’re up to this time.

Step #2. Axicom

Most of your junk mail can be stopped by a combination of three companies. Axicom is one of them. They’re a data company that sells names and addresses to marketers.

To opt-out, just go to this address below and fill out the form:

http://www.axicom.com/opt-out-request-form

Within a week they’ll send you a package in the mail that has the actual “opt out” form. Once you complete and mail it back to them, the whole thing will take effect in about 2 weeks.

Step #3. Choicepoint

This is another big company that works much like Axicom. To opt-out, just go here and fill out their form:

http://www.privacyatchoicepoint.com/optout_ext.html

Step #4. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA)

The DMA is a sort of self-regulatory board for the direct marketing industry. They do a lot of great things for the industry and also allow you to opt-out of many types of unsolicited mailings.

They’re also some of the people who manage your likes and dislikes among advertisers. You know those little warranty survey cards that come with almost everything you buy? Remember the plastic grocery store membership cards you carry on your keychain? Well, they keep tabs on what you buy, how often, and when you typically like to make those purchases.

To remove yourself from all this, go to http://www.dmachoice.org and they’ll tell you how.

Opting out of these databases is really only “step 1” of a much larger privacy protection plan. For a more in-depth take on how to live comfortably off the radar, check out Joe Decameron’s “Perfect Privacy Solution.”

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