Things to do on a lazy Sunday: Stop Junk Mail!

Junk postal mail has a big impact on the environment, particularly catalogs. They’re also a nuisance and a distraction. Reducing recurring junk postal mail is easy, and the time invested pays big dividends. There are quick and easy ways to reduce your mail flow. Here are resources to get you started:

Step one: Remove your name from specific catalog lists at no charge by using Or, phone the toll free number printed in each catalog and request removal. Once you’ve registered with CatalogChoice, it’s easy to add catalogs as they arrive. (edit: Per this article, it seems that the Direct Marketing Association has instructed it’s members to ignore CatalogChoice. That stinks.)


Step two: The Direct Marketing Association is the largest provider of direct mail lists. The DMA’s mail preference service lets you opt out. Visit to register. The only catch: you must provide a credit card number to validate that you’re real. The DMA is as reputable an organization as bulk mailers can be, and it should be fine to give them this data. You can also register by mail for a $1 fee. The DMA will also remove you from some email SPAM lists via their email preference registration service.


Step three: Opt out of credit card offers. Visit to register. This site is run by the four major credit reporting entities, and allows you to get rid of those annoying “you’ve been approved for a new card” offers. You will need to provide personal data, including your SSN to opt out. Again, these four are the keepers of SSN credit info, so it’s as safe as possible. If you prefer, you can also do this by phone by calling 1-888-567-8688.

Do Not Call

Step four: Get your number off telemarketing lists. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) popular National Do Not Call Registry allows you to stop telemarketers. Certain fund raising calls are still allowed, for example non-profits and political groups. All telemarketers are required to stop calling 31 days after you register your numbers. Visit to register. You can learn more about the registry in the FAQ here.


Step five: Call Publishers Clearinghouse and tell them that you do NOT want to be a winner! 1-800-645-9242. I suppose this choice could cost you millions, but the odds are that it won’t.


Step six: Call ValPak Coupons and ask them to take you off their list. Unless you like those annoying little blue envelopes. 1-800-237-6266.


Step seven: Advo/Valassis provides a web form that you can use to stop the Advo mailer. This is the big bundle of color newsprint materials that really clutters up your mailbox, along with the white postcard with the blue text which tells the post office where to deliver it.

Penny Saver

Step eight: Call or write to Harte Hanks if you’re getting their “Penny Saver” circular. They can be reached at 1-800-422-4116. Unfortunately, they don’t accept requests via the web, so you can either call them or visit their site to obtain their postal address and send them a letter.

Bank Card

Step nine: When you do business with companies, tell them not to sell your information! In particular, make note when your bank sends you information about their privacy and opt-out policy. You may need to fill out a form to ask them not to sell your financial information! (To answer the obvious question, no, of course never shares customer information with anyone!)

It takes three or four months for the flow of junk to slow to a trickle. I hope this info helps you reduce the clutter in your real world inbox.

  • Carly

    Great post on Catalog Choice/DMA.

    I wanted to give you a heads-up on another great Web site that I thought your readers would find interesting and help them de-clutter their mailboxes and simplify their lives.

    Its called, a free, easy-to-use site that gives you the ability to remove yourself from the most commonly used marketing lists in a matter of minutes!

    Who knew that Americans receive nearly four million tons of junk mail each year and the average consumer can be on thousands of marketing mailing lists at any time? We are flooded with unwanted advertisements, credit card offers and political propaganda, which can bury the mail we are looking for…not to mention create a drain on the environment.

    Take care,
    Carly VanDyke

  • There’s another service that will take care of all of it for you for $20. takes care of getting you off of junk mail lists, catalogs, credit card offers, the whole thing. We also plant 5 trees for you when you sign up and have a petition for a Do Not Mail Registry. The impact on the environment and your time is amazing.


  • Tony

    Dane, noticed this article at the Washington Post:

    which says that the Direct Marketing Association has instructed its members to ignore opt-out requests from Catalog Choice. Since many direct mailers are members of the DMA, that may dramatically reduce the effectiveness of Catalog Choice and similar services.

  • Boy, that’s too bad! I guess CatalogChoice is working too well. I’m using it as well as and I’ve also registered directly with DMA. I don’t know which works best, but the combination results in virtually no catalogs.

  • I wrote an article like this a while back. Yours goes into much more detail and gives direct examples of where to go for each particular thing though. Kudos and congrats on a very useful article…

  • Tim Henry

    My company Myjunktree will also stop all the junk mail coming to your home. We help you stop all the credit card offers, weekly coupons, unwanted catalogs, misc junk mail and even the phone books. We provide quick and easy access to sign up on the do not call list and order your annual credit report to protect your identity.

  • Thanks for the post.

    You can also sign do not mail petition ( like Do Not Call National Petition)

    I did some search online and this is the best resource so far available online ( correct me if I am wrong). I have done this 5 months ago and my mailbox is literally empty ( I have paperless billing and also opted out from various mail lists) I check my mail twice a month now. It is beautiful. ( What a freedom).

    I even took the letter from samples provided and wrote it to a local Chinese restaurant that keeps putting fliers in my door. They stopped too in the whole subdivision.

    Save the time for yourself.

    I even opted out from the yellow book. What do I need it for, since the internet is right here.