Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ending Unwanted Junk Mail

RJ Note: Sometimes, I need a dump truck to get all the junk mail in from the box. How much money could the Postal Service save if they didn't have to deliver all that landfill mass? Thought you'd be interested in learning how to get out from under some of the junk mail that flows into Fayette County.

(SPM Wire) It's something we all get nearly every day. Junk mail is a nuisance for many consumers who receive daily postcards, flyers, specially-marked envelopes and pre-approved credit card offers.

Not only does junk mail weigh down our garbage cans and harm the environment, it also presents an opportunity for ID thieves to steal personal information. However, as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) explains, there are several steps consumers can take to reduce the amount of unwanted mail and the possibility of identity theft.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw out more than four million tons of junk mail every year -- and what is one man's garbage is an ID thief's goldmine. A Javelin Strategy and Research survey theft estimates that 8.1 million Americans became victims of ID theft in 2007; with nearly half a million cases of ID theft occurring as the result of stolen mail.

"Many people view junk mail simply as a daily nuisance, but if credit card offers and catalogs are heading to the trash can in tact, that unwanted mail can become a much more sinister problem," said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. "Preventing ID theft perpetrated through the mail requires the two-step approach of reducing the amount of junk mail received, as well as shredding any sensitive materials, such as credit card offers."

BBB recommends consumers always shred important documents and take the following steps to reduce the amount of junk mail they receive:

* Pre-Approved Credit Card OffersPre-approved credit card offers are easy targets for identity thieves who can use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. Stopping these offers can help reduce the chances of identity theft.

To "opt-out" of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years, and perhaps permanently, consumers can call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit: www.optoutprescreen.com. This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers will be asked for personal information, including name, address, birth date and Social Security Number. This information is only used to process requests and remains confidential. This procedure will need to be followed for each adult family member.

* Direct Mail Offers: Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is a trade group with 5,200 member companies that use telephone, mail, and the Internet to pitch their products directly to consumers. To stop receiving mailings from DMA members, consumers can go to dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing. DMA regularly updates its list, but companies it notifies to remove names from their mailing lists may take as much as six months to stop solicitations.

* Catalogs: Consumers' mailboxes often can be overrun with catalogs - even if they've never shopped with the company before. This is likely because the consumer has, at some point, made a catalog or online purchase with a company that handed over contact information to Abacus, an alliance of catalogue and publishing companies. To stop individual catalogues, consumers can contact the specific company in question. To stop mass mailings, consumers can e-mail optout@abacus-us.com, or write to Abacus, Inc., P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, Colorado 80038.

* 'Resident' and 'Occupant' Mailings: Consumers can remove their address from "resident" and "occupant" mailings that offer various goods and services, by contacting Valassis - formerly known as ADVO - by phoning 888-241-6760, or through an online form at: advo.com/consumersupport.html. Consumers also can send a written request to ADVO, Inc. Customer Assistance, P.O. Box 249, Windsor, Connecticut 06095.

* Solicitations Sent to Children: If a child under age 13 is being mailed advertisements or credit card offers, it could be a sign that identity theft has occurred. Parents should contact the three major credit reporting bureaus and inform them of the situation (Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; Experian: 1-888-397-3742; TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289)

For more on ID theft prevention, including tips Internet safety, visit www.bbb.org.

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1 comment:

William said...

The real solution to junk mail is to give Americans the choice to easily and enforceably give Americans the choice to stop receiving wasteful junk mail by establishing a national Do Not Mail Registry.

Since ForestEthics launched its campaign in March 2008 we've garnered over 65,000 signatures, including those of Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrian Grenier, and Daryl Hannah.

Sign the petition today at donotmail.org.

Will Craven
Do Not Mail Campaign
ForestEthics