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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg

Get off the mailing list

Here's a taste of what you'll get in the

31 Small Steps to Organize Your Paper - Kindle edition book cover

The following is Step #4

Step #4: Get off the mailing list

Step #4: Get off the mailing list

Stop the flow of unsolicited mail from companies seeking new customers and pre-screened credit offers. It’s called junk mail for a reason and getting off the direct marketing mailing lists can save time, money, and the environment.

Sign up at to set your preferences on receiving catalogs, magazine offers, and other mail offers from companies who are looking for new customers. Most companies buy their mailing lists from Data & Marketing Association (DMA) and agree to abide by the preferences you set. You can either stop all unsolicited mail or pick and choose the items you want to keep. It can take from 30 to 90 days for your choices to take effect. The DMA opt-out is effective for five years.

It’s quick and easy to register on-line as a new user, read the main paragraph, and chose to be removed from all categories. It will take you longer if you want to pick and choose what to stop or allow. I recommend that you stop all categories for now. When you’re done with these 31 Small Steps you can go back and turn on the ones you want.

You can mail in your request, but it will take longer and you still have to be able to access the Internet to get the form. You’ll also pay $1 to have your request processed manually. It’s much easier to register and choose on-line, so ask for help if you need it.

Reduce the number of pre-screened credit offers you receive in the mail by registering at You will also be directed to the site by if you choose to unsubscribe to “Credit Offers” in the “Manage My Mail” section.

The pre-screened credit offer opt-out is effective for five years from the date you make it. If you want to permanently opt-out, you can choose the Permanent Opt-Out by Mail option and complete the electronic opt-out process. Once that’s completed you will be able to print, fill-in, and mail the “Permanent Opt-Out Election” form.

Registering to be removed from these mailing lists does not stop all unsolicited offers. The companies that you’ve already done business with have you on their customer list. You will need to contact the company directly and ask to be removed. Each year, you’ll get a letter explaining a company’s privacy policy. Use the letter as a reminder to update your mail preferences with that company.

Getting off the mailing lists and dramatically decreasing pre-screened credit offers is also an important step in protecting your identity and finances from thieves. The less junk mail with your personal and financial information on it, the fewer opportunities for it to fall into the wrong hands.

Junk mail is only a part of the stream of paper that flows into your home. Steps #7 and #8 will help you with the catalogs and magazines.

Place a reminder in your calendar to opt-out on junk mail and pre-screened credit offers again in five years. If you use a paper calendar, use a sticky note at the back of the calendar. Move it into the new calendar each year.


  • Your computer

  • A timer

Time Estimate: 10 minutes (or less) to register on-line as a new user with and choose to be removed from all categories. It will take longer if you pick and choose what keeps coming. Another 10 minutes or less with If you mail in your requests, plan for 30 minutes or more to download, print out, and fill in each form.

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© Shawndra Holmberg, 2017. The blog URL ( ) may be shared or a small portion may be quoted with reference either to the book or to this blog.

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