Does unwanted mail flood your mailbox?

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

By Lori Swanson

Attorney General

If you receive unwanted mail, you are not alone. Many people are bombarded by junk mail—ranging from credit card offers to catalogues to charitable solicitations. Persistent junk mail can inundate mailboxes and become a hassle to dispose of.

Lori Swanson, attorney general

Lori Swanson, attorney general

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So why is it so difficult to stop unwanted mail?

To start, a vast number of entities send junk mail, and many of them sell and trade their mailings lists. Once a person gets on a mailing list, the amount of mail they receive may spike. Some mail comes from legitimate companies, but is unwanted. Other mail, especially that directed at senior citizens may come from scammers. Scammers have no regard for the law and are not deterred by requests to be removed from their mailing lists.

Unfortunately, there is not a good “one-size-fits-all” solution that will stop unwanted mail. To help reduce the problem, however, the Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips:

‘Opt-out’ of prescreened offers

Federal law allows credit bureaus to sell (to creditors and insurance companies) lists of people who have been “prescreened.” This may result in credit card offers and other mailings.

You may opt-out of “prescreened” offers from the four major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion) for a period of five years by phone, online, or in writing, or may opt-out of “prescreened” offers permanently (more on this option below).

•Permanent Opt-out Requests. To opt-out of “prescreened” offers permanently, visit When initiating the opt-out process online, choose the option “Permanent Opt-Out by Mail.” After you complete and submit your request online, you will be provided with a “Permanent Opt-Out Election” form. You must sign and return this form to complete your permanent opt-out request.

•Opt-out by Phone. To opt-out by phone, call 1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5-OPTOUT). You will be asked to provide personal information, including your name, home telephone number, date of birth, and Social Security number. Under federal law, the information you provide is confidential and used only to process your opt-out request.

•Opt-out in Writing. To opt-out in writing, send a letter detailing your request to each of the four major consumer reporting agencies. When you opt-out in writing, the credit reporting agencies ask that you include your full name, address, home phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, and signature. You may send written opt-out requests to the credit reporting agencies as follows:


Equifax, Inc.

P.O. Box 740123

Atlanta, GA 30374



P.O. Box 919

Allen, TX 75013


Innovis Consumer Assistance

P.O. Box 495

Pittsburgh, PA 15230



P.O. Box 505

Woodlyn, PA 19094


Opt-out requests must be processed in five business days, but it may take up to 60 days before you stop receiving prescreened offers.

‘Opt-out’ of company mailing lists

Companies you do business with may send you solicitations, or sell or trade your name and address, unless you ask them not to do so. To limit the sharing of your information, you should write to companies you do business with and ask them to put you on their “do-not-mail” lists. Although it takes time to write such letters, doing so the first time a company sends you unwanted mail may help limit the unwanted mail you receive from it.

“Opt-out” with the direct marketing association

The Direct Marketing Association (“DMA”) is a private trade organization that represents 3,600 organizations involved in direct and database marketing. You may optout of receiving mail from DMA member organizations for a period of five years.

•Opt-out Online. To opt-out online, visit You may request to stop receiving mail from four different categories (credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers, and other mail offers) or from specific companies within each category. The DMA does not charge a fee when you opt-out online.

•Opt-out in Writing. To opt-out in writing, send a letter to the DMA that includes your opt-out request, along with your full name, mailing address, and telephone number. You must include a check or money order payable to “Direct Marketing Association” in the amount of $1. You may mail written opt-out requests to the DMA as follows:



Direct Marketing Association

P.O. Box 643

Carmel, NY 10512


The DMA indicates that it may take up to 90 days for opt-out requests to take effect.

Ignore mail from scam artists and criminals

The mailings scam artists and criminals send to people run the gamut — from sweepstakes promotions to lotteries to “fortune tellers” to “fright” mail designed to scare the recipient to send money. It can be hard to stop mail from scam artists and criminals because they often operate from another country, have no regard for the law, and do not honor requests to be removed from their mailing lists.