Paul is sick of getting unwanted junk mail, spam email, and robocalls and is actively testing many services that reduce these types of spam.
Junk Mail Doesn't Quit
If you're anything like me, you've had enough! I'm sick and tired of getting so much junk mail. My home mailbox is getting filled with catalogs, credit card offers, and fliers. I get so much junk mail that I can hardly tell what is real mail and what isn't.
Here's what I did to cut back and almost get rid of all my mail entirely.
1. Switch to Paperless Statements
The first step was to go to all of my bill providers and sign up for the paperless options, set up eBills, and allow automatic payments.
For me, paperless statements are offered by almost all my providers:
- Checking accounts
- Credit cards
- Power companies (PG&E)
- Cable including internet (Comcast)
My checking account from Schwab was helpful with setting this up. They show which of my bills have eBill services. EBills notify you in the bill pay section that you have a new eBill and you can view the statement and pay it all online with no statements getting delivered in the mail.
A few credit cards offered paperless statements but didn't offer eBills integrated with Schwab (like my Chase credit card) which I found annoying. It's important to me to pay my bills on time and efficiently, so I opted to set up automatic payments through each provider that didn't offer eBills. I lose a bit of the ease of reviewing, but they will no longer send a paper statement.
The only reoccurring bill I can't get a paperless statement from is my water bill. I'm hoping I can set that bill up to be paid automatically so I don't have to look out for it in the mail.
2. Opt Out of as Much Junk Mail as Possible
The next step is to opt out of all the junk mail you can. There is a service (DMAChoice) that costs a one-time fee of $2 that law-abiding marketers use to honor opt-outs. They will remove from major offers of catalogs, magazines, credit cards, and other offers. If you opt-out, they should respect it. I was leery of a service that costs money, but after research, I decided it was a trustworthy organization.
There is one piece of the service I didn't like. To opt out of a lifetime of credit card offers, you had to print and mail forms in ironically. I did most of this on my phone, so I instead chose the five-year option for the financial information. I wish there was an online process that supported a lifetime opt-out option.
This service should reduce significantly the number of credit card offers that come in the mail, but it won't stop all of the local offers and resident offers.
There doesn't appear to be a way to do this, so it seems unlikely that I can stop getting junk mail altogether, but at least I should be able to significantly reduce it.
3. Stop Receiving Catalogs and Other Junk Mail
So, this is a bit contentious and a bit duplicative with DMAChoice. My wife actually likes some of the catalogs we get, but I feel they're wasteful. So, we've compromised. We are only opting out of catalogs she says she doesn't want. There are multiple options for opting out of catalogs. You can:
- Contact catalog companies directly (Manual Option)
- Catalog Choice (Non-Profit and Free Option, but they ask for donations)
- PaperKarma (Paid Service)
I read several reviews, talked to folks that used the services, and tried them out.
It's painful to look up and manually opt out, so I very quickly dismissed the do-it-your-self option.
Catalog Choice vs PaperKarma
I reviewed both. I'll save you the nitty gritty details, but if you have a few well-known catalog brands you would like to stop, Catalog Choice is a good option. However, if you are at Defcon 5 level of junk mail, you'll want the heaviest hitter that is the most convenient.
- Is a mobile app (easy to use)
- You take a picture of the logo and address of the junk mail and submit it
- PaperKarma contacts them and notifies you when you have been removed or not
The success rate with PaperKarma is reportedly much higher than Catalog Choice. I've been able to opt out of several local services and generally, I'm happy with the service. For $1.99 a month, I don't plan on keeping it forever, but I'll use it for 90 days and see how it goes.
Less Mail Than Ever!
Three-to-four days a week, I get no mail. It was a pretty quick reduction. I look forward to getting mail and counting how much mail I want vs how much junk mail comes every day. I submit each piece of junk mail to PaperKarma because sometimes they surprise me by getting opt-out confirmations from places I didn't think they could. Of the last 10 pieces of mail submitted, 7 have been confirmed opted-out, two unsuccessful, and one pending (Pottery Barn). Not bad.
While we won't be able to stop all the junk mail, we have significantly reduced it—as far as I can tell, this is the best way to do it. Hope this helps others reduce their unwanted junk mail.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What do you think about receiving informational literature from political candidates in the mail, even though that information is easy to find online?
Answer: I consider political mail junk mail. I don’t want it delivered to my house. It’s often difficult to stop these types of mailings, but I’ve continued to submit them to Paper Karma.
Robert on August 23, 2020:
Prescreen opt out stops credit card/insurance offers - select the Permanant option. Also check your credit reports and remove any unwanted name/address variations (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion & Innovis)
Chris Desatoff from USA on May 27, 2018:
Good luck, man. I hope it works out well and actually stops.
I tried calling that number at the bottom of my credit card offers to stop getting junk mail from them. But it's an automated phone system, and it required me to spell out my last name letter by letter.
Unfortunately...look at my last name lol.
D sounds like T over the phone.
S sounds like F over the phone.
F and F...sigh.
So the junk mail keeps coming =(
But I bet somewhere in the world, there's a guy named Chris Tefadoss who no longer gets credit card offers in the mail =P
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2018:
Years ago I had the same mission of getting rid of junk mail and that was prior to the days of electronic billing. I cannot remember the last catalog that was mailed to us because it was literally years ago. Now we get very little junk mail except from political candidates when it is nearing election time.
Thanks for your advice! Pinning this to my Do You Know This? board.
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on May 24, 2018:
i'm on a total mission to get rid of our junk mail. I'm actually looking forward to the mail to see what I can unsubscribe.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 24, 2018:
The tips and services that you've described sound great. I'm going to look for some equivalent services in Canada. I'm at the stage you describe at the start of the article. It's getting hard to tell the real mail from the junk mail that arrives at my home.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 24, 2018:
Junk mail is in the eye of the beholder, but I hate the stuff! So environmentally wasteful. Spam is annoying, but the physical waste impacts us so much more.
Thanks so much for these wonderful tips.
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on May 23, 2018:
I’m going to post on my mailbox, please don’t deliver mail addressed to “resident”.
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on May 23, 2018:
In France, one will often see 'Pas du Pub' printed on the letter-box of a front door. Took me a while to figure out that the owner was not publicising his or her visit to the local pub but was instead asking people not to pop advertising through their letter-box:)
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on May 23, 2018:
I’m guessing DMAChoice helped a lot since you submit to it once for lots of providers. It’s sort of like the do not call registry.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on May 23, 2018:
It's interesting that your spam mail was reduced in as short a time as 30 days. I wonder which of the services you used actually is the most responsible for the success.
I also use paperless billing with all my accounts, and Citibank also offers eBilling – and I use it. It makes bill paying easy to manage in just a few minutes each month. No paper bills, no checks to write, no lost bill payments in the mail.