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Opting out of unwanted mail

February 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Did you know that more than 53 million trees are used each year to produce paper catalogs alone? Factor in junk mail and unsolicited credit card offers and the waste keeps growing. Consumer Reports has some quick tips to help you get rid of unwanted mail and help the environment, too. A lot of people like to get all of those catalogs. Some actually use them to order something; others use them for school projects and wish they never came in the mail. Well, stopping most of the catalog deliveries and those pre-approved credit card offers is easier than you think.

Every time Rachel Skinner takes a pile of catalogs out to be recycled, she cringes.

"I can get close to 20 catalogs on a day. I get furniture catalogs, lots of children's clothing catalogs," said Rachel Skinner. "I get bed and bath catalogs. I'll get four different catalogs from one company."

What few people realize is that you can opt out and choose not to receive catalogs in the mail. You can even end those seemingly endless credit card solicitations. Urvashi Rangan of Consumer Reports Greener Choices says stopping the mailbox deluge is easier than you might realize.

"The Direct Marketing Association, which includes companies that send you catalogs, must take you off of their mailing list if you sign up for their 'mail preference service,'" said Rangan. "This includes subscription offers sent by companies like Consumer Reports."

All it takes is one dollar and a click of a mouse. You can go to www.dmaconsumers.org. Then click on "Remove my name from those lists." There you'll find the one-page form you need to fill out to cut off the flow. And if you want to stop those preapproved credit card offers, one call does it all: 1-888-567-8688.

"A few years ago, consumers started realizing they could get telemarketers to stop invading their dinner hour by signing up for 'do-not-call lists,'" said Rangan. "Today they're taking it to the next level and saying 'stop invading my mailbox, too.'"

And until you can get yourself off the mailing lists, you might want to take your cue from Rachel, who found a creative use for her many catalogs.

"I use some of the catalogs so the kids can cut out and make collages," said Skinner.

Consumer Reports says when you call to stop unwanted credit card offers, be aware you will be asked to give your Social Security number. The opt-out service is legitimate and is authorized by the credit reporting companies. However, if you don't want to give your Social Security number, you can file the opt-out form at the service's Web site. A Social Security number is not required there.

DMAChoice.org

OptOutPrescreen.com

To stop credit card offers: (888) 567-8688

 

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