How to Reduce Your Junk Mail - For Residents

Are you tired of unwanted mail? Have you ever returned from a vacation with a mound of mail, most of it solicitations and credit card applications?

Junk mail is a waste of time and resources. The average American household receives 1.5 trees through the mail slot in the form of unsolicited mail every year. That adds up to over 100 million trees annually. In addition, Americans collectively pay $370,000,000 a year to dispose the junk mail that doesn't get recycled.

But there is good news! You can get rid of 90 percent of that junk mail much easier than you might think.

In order to substantially reduce your junk mail, you need to reduce access to your name and address so that it won't be traded, rented, or sold to companies who send you unwanted mail. Follow the steps below, or use our County of San Diego Junk Mail Reduction Kit (pdf) and you can help keep junk mail from finding its way to your doorstep.

Steps to follow in order to reduce the amount of Junk Mail you receive:

1. Fill out and mail simple letters
Click on the link above to access the sample letters.  Be sure to list all variations of your name (such as John Doe, John T. Doe, J. Doe, Jonathan Doe, Johnny Doe).

2. Call or send a letter to the following numbers to request your name to be taken off their list:

  • Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
    You can send a letter, which takes approximately 90 days, or you can fill out their online form, which will go into effect sooner. There is a $1 fee to file the form online or by mail.
    DMA Mail Preference Service
    P O Box 282
    Carmel, NY 10512
  • Equifax / Trans Union / Novus / Experian
    These credit bureaus send out most of the unsolicited credit offers. They will ask your name, address and social security number. Your social security number is used to locate all the variations of your name that appears on their mailing lists. You should call every two years.
    1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5-OPTOUT)

    Through the website www.OptOutPrescreen, you may request to:
    • Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers for Five Years - (electronically through this website).Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers permanently - (mail Permanent Opt-Out Election form available through this website).
    • If you choose to Opt-Out, you will no longer be included in firm offer lists provided by these four consumer credit reporting companies.
  • ADVO
    ADVO is the direct marketing company behind the ShopWise* and Missing Children ads. They claim to be the single largest private customer of the US Postal Service. You can send a letter, use the free online service, or call the toll-free number to be removed from their list.
    Valassis Direct Mail, Inc
    Consumer Assistance
    P. O. Box 249
    Windsor, CT 06095
  • Harte Hanks Communications
    Harte Hank sends a wide variety of coupons and ads throughout the country, including Penny Savers. You can call or send a letter to be removed from their lists.
    Harte Hanks Direct Marketing
    C/O Pennysaver
    2830 Orbiter Street
    Brea, CA 92821
  • Val-Pak
    Sends regular mailings full of coupons. You can go online, call, or send them a letter.
    Val-Pak Coupons
    8605 Largo Lakes Dr.
    Largo, FL. 33773
  • Catalogs:
    Remove your name from specific catalog lists for free by visiting

    When you buy something from a mail order catalog, your transaction is likely to be reported to Abacus, owned by DoubleClick Digital Advertising. Members of the Abacus Alliance, mostly catalog companies and publishing companies, contribute and exchange information about their customers. Your name may also be sold to other catalog and publishing companies. One way or another, when you ask for one catalog, you're like to get catalogs from other companies as well. There are two ways to opt out of the Abacus database. You'll need your name, including any middle initial, your current address, and if you've moved recently, your previous address.
    By e-mail:
    By mail:
    Abacus, Inc.
    P.O. Box 1478
    Broomfield, CO 80038
  • Computer Disks
    America Online 1-800-827-6364
  • Junk Faxes
    The transmission of unsolicited faxed advertisements has been illegal under U.S. Federal Law since 1991. To stop junk faxes from coming to your business, opt-out by contacting the sender of the faxes. If you are unsuccessful, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission by going online, calling, or writing a letter.
    Consumer Information Bureau
    Federal Communications Commission
    445 12th St. SW
    Washington, DC 20554

3. Call the number on your catalog and tell them you want to be taken off their list or write a Simple Letter stating that you want your name removed. It is easier for the organization to remove your name if they have the exact copy of your address label. Cut or peel off the catalog address label and glue or tape the label to the bottom of the letter or postcard. As noted above, you can remove your name from specific catalog lists for free by visiting

4. When you buy from catalogs over the phone or online, make sure to let the company know: "DO NOT SELL MY NAME and DO NOT SEND ME PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL!"

5. Write on the bottom of checks and mail orders "DO NOT SELL MY NAME.

The following activities often lead to increases in your junk mail load:

  • Entering sweepstakes or contests
  • Filling out warranty cards
  • Donating to charity organizations
  • Registering at meetings or conferences
  • Having your address listed in a publication
  • Ordering from a catalog
  • Signing up for a service (car insurance, health care, etc.)
  • Having a credit card

To keep these activities from creating more junk mail, practice preventative junk mail care and make the following a part of your routine:

  • When you sign up for a service or order from a catalog, tell them not to sell your name or send promotional materials.
  • If you do want to receive a particular catalog, but no so frequently, request to receive it less often.
  • On the bottom of checks made out to magazines, catalogs or charity organizations, write "DO NOT SELL MY NAME".
  • Do not give out your address unless it is necessary.
  • Post Office change of address cards:
    The U.S. Postal Service makes money by selling the information from change of address cards to private businesses. This is how national list brokers, credit bureaus and others may get your name in the first place. As an alternative solution, you may send out your own postcards announcing your new address to those whose mail you wish to receive. You can also ask the post office to hold your mail for pick up until everyone knows your address

AND two ways that won't help you reduce junk mail:

  1. Refusing unsolicited mail - Writing "Return to Sender" or "Refused" on unsolicited mail and placing it in your mailbox does not work. The U.S. Post Office does not forward third class bulk mail, so this mail will be discarded.

  2. Returning unsolicited mail postage due - Trying to get the attention of a company by returning your accumulated junk mail in an envelope with insufficient postage does not work.

For more information on Junk Mail Reduction, see our Useful Links and Phone Numbers Page.

How to get off Spam Email Listings:

  1. To remove your email address from e-marketers lists, go to, and fill out their on-line form.

  2. Report spam to the Federal Trade Commission. Either send a copy of the unwanted message to or fill out the complaint form at They use emails stored in this database to pursue law enforcement action.

  3. Contact the senders ISP. Virtually all ISPs forbid their members to send SPAM. If your complaint is valid, there is a good chance the spammer will lose connectivity.

  4. provides a quick and easy online Spam reporting system as well as filtered email accounts.

How to Stop Getting Telemarketing Calls:

National Do Not Call Registry
Visit the website and fill out their form to add your name to the do-not-call list.

  • Federal law prohibits telemarketers from initiating a telephone call to a person who has previously stated that they do not wish to receive calls from that particular company. Therefore, you may ask the telemarketer to permanently remove you from their calling list.

  • If you continue to receive calls from a telemarketer to who you've requested not to call you back, you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by email at or by phone at 888-TELL-FCC. They use information from this database to pursue law enforcement action.

How to Opt Out of Receiving Yellow Pages:




The information that appears here was put together by  -877-STOPWASTE (786-7927)