Hold the Mail

Hennepin County Environmental Services

Control Your Exposure

Want to learn how to lose 39 pounds of unwanted mail? The best way to keep your name off a mailing list is to control your exposure. In order to keep your name off a list for the long term, think about how often you give out your contact information for things like product warranties, subscriptions, contests, freebies, non-profit groups, financial institutions or online shopping.

Consistently add a privacy statement to anything you put your name on asking not to be added to their mailing list. You can also request that your name not be sold or shared with other organizations.

Get Rid of the Mail You Receive

Recycle it. Sort mail directly into recycling bins or shred and then recycle.You can place a recycling bin near your desk or wherever you do the most paperwork to make recycling easy and convenient. Check with your county on what can and cannot be recycled. Make sure to remove all non-paper items, such as CDs, product samples and stickers.

Get off mailing lists by contacting companies directly. Not all companies use national systems to purge their mailing lists. Here are tips for when to contact them directly and information to make it easier to do so.

1. Credit offers

The nation’s major consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion) offer a toll-free number to remove your name from pre-approved credit card offers. The recording asks for social security number, name, address and phone number.

  • Online: optoutprescreen.com
  • Call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)

2. Mail list brokers and marketing associations.

These firms or their members provide national lists for non-financial data.

  • Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
    • Online: dmachoice.org
    • Mail: You can print and mail a registration form from dmachoice.org.
  • Polk Company
    • Call: 1-800-464-7655
    • Ask for the “Opt Out” line.

3. National mailers.

National advertisers compile and maintain large databases of customers Nationwide, often for mailing coupons or local weekly circulars. These materials are generally printed well in advance of mailing, so expect a delay of six to eight weeks for this opt-out to take effect.

  • Red Plum (Mailbox Values), Shop Wi$e
    • Online: valassis.com/1024/Contact
    • Call: 1-888-241-6760
  • Val-Pak Direct Market Systems (Cox Target Media)
    • Online: coxtarget.com/contact.html. Click “mailing list removal request form” at bottom of page. Enter information exactly as printed on envelope.
    • Mail: Send your Val-Pak envelope, marked “Delete” to:
      Val-Pak Direct Marketing Systems
      8605 Largo Lakes Drive
      Largo, FL 33773
  • Money Mailer, LLC. Provide your individual request with your mailing address, sign and mail, e-mail or fax to:
    • Online: moneymailer.com/company-info/contact-us, click on e-mail.
    • Call: 714-889-3800
    • Mail: 12131 Western Avenue
      Garden Grove, CA 92841
      Fax: 714-889-1590

4. Catalog mailers

  • If you still want to receive some catalogs from a retailer, simply ask to only receive those publications.
  • You can contact catalog companies individually by looking for their contact information on the catalog.
  • Catalog Choice. This free service makes it easy for consumers to stop receiving unwanted paper catalogs. The site asks you to register online and identify the catalogs that you are receiving that you would like to decline. Catalog Choice contacts the catalog provider for you, asking that you be removed from that mail list.
    The service claims that you should see results in 10 weeks. Merchants are not required to comply with this service, so you may have to end up contacting the business directly.

    • Online: catalogchoice.org

5. Individual mailers

  • Not all companies or organizations use the national systems to manage their mailing lists. If you are still getting “junk” from persistent mailers, you can contact the company directly and ask to be placed on their do not mail list. Look at the mail piece to see if there is a number to call, send them an e-mail, or use their website.

6. Sweepstakes mailers

Want to stop receiving all of those sweepstakes mailers? Contact the national companies below to remove your information from mailing lists.

  • Publishers Clearinghouse
    • Mail: 101 Winners Circle
      Port Washington, NY 11053-4016
    • Online: pch.custhelp.com
    • Call: 1-800-476-4724
  • Readers Digest
    • Mail: PO Box 50005
      Prescott, AZ 86301-5005
    • Call: 1-800-310-6261

7. Local utilities and service providers

  • Ask your phone, gas, electric, water, cable, newspaper, banking, and insurance providers about their privacy policies. Find out more about what information they will and will not share about you. Most companies will restrict what they share about their customers, but typically they will only do so if specifically asked to.
  • Ask that electronic copies of your utility, bank, and credit card statements be sent to you via email. Save them on your computer instead of printing.

8. Minnesota state government: Public data

  • State licenses.
    • Minnesota law requires that names and addresses of persons or organizations licensed by the state be made available to the public. Specific lists of license holders can be purchased through the Minnesota Bookstore. License holders can opt out of these lists by contacting the Mailing List Service at: 651-296-0930.
  • Motor vehicle data.
    • All personal data will automatically be restricted from any use except those authorized by federal law. Anyone who has no objection to the data being released for commercial or general uses can “opt-in” by indicating consent on their driver’s license or vehicle registration application.

9. U.S. Postal Service: misaddressed mail

    • Check with you local post office for forms to stop these types of mail:
    • Former residents
    • Deceased
    • Sexually explicit

NOTE: These links are provided as examples for consumers. They do not represent an endorsement of the companies, their services or their privacy policies. Sources: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, U.S. EPA.

Don’t have the time? These companies will do the work for you for a fee.

Tips for Contacting Companies Directly

  • Be prepared. Have the mailing label or catalog handy. Give them the exact match for your name and address. Customer ID numbers or other internal identifiers are very useful to provide.
  • Be polite. Most mailers will make an effort to comply with your request since they get to improve their database and ultimately reduce their costs. If you do not get results, you can consider stronger language or contacting company management.
  • Be patient. It may take some time to get your name and address out of their mailing cycle.
  • Be persistent. Keep trying. Drive home the message that your privacy is an important part of customer service. You do have the right to be left alone.
  • If available, online options for deletion from mailing lists are an easy solution. But be patient, it often takes several weeks for your name to be deleted.
Hold the Mail

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