DEAR SUN SPOTS: When I called the unwanted mail Opt Out number you included in Sun Spots on March 19, I was asked to give my Social Security number. Is that phone number right?

— No name, no town

ANSWER: I understand your concern. 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or optoutprescreen.com is the phone number and website operated by the major consumer reporting companies. I used it in the past myself and met with great success in getting rid of the credit card and insurance company offers that were cluttering up my mailbox. It does take about 90 days for everything to clear out so be patient.

As I explained in that March 19 column, you can also contact each place individually.

Here are more ways to simplify your life when it comes to junk mail:

If you want to get phone books and catalogs out of your life, go to dexpages.com. There is an opt-out option. They’re happy to take you off the list because it helps them save money by not printing unwanted catalogs.

If you contribute to a charitable organization, ask them to send you only one donation request per year. The American Institute on Philanthropy offers several tips on reducing junk mail and phone solicitations from charities at charitywatch.org/articles/seventips.html.

If you’ve had it with companies sending you unwanted mailings or products, look for any of the following phrases on the envelope, “return service requested,” “forwarding service requested,” “address service requested” or “change service requested.” If you find any of these phrases, write “refused, return to sender” on the unopened envelope. Mail sent to “Resident,” “Current Resident” or “Current Occupant” can be refused if it contains one of the above endorsements, or is sent first class. When you receive unsolicited promo products, you can mark the envelope “Return to Sender” and put it back in the mail.

There are several small mailing list brokers and direct marketing firms in the U.S. Send or phone in all variations of your name and address to the list brokers and direct marketing firms listed below. Save all the variations of the names and addresses, which come to your mailbox. If you’re using snail mail, cut and paste actual mailing labels onto a sheet, make copies, add your signature beside each name variation and send them off to each of the five addresses below. Indicate the following: “Please remove my name and address from your mailing lists and do not rent, sell or trade my name or address.” The contact information for these companies are:

Valpak, 1 Valpak Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33716, 1-727-399-3000, valpak.com/coupons/show/mailinglistsuppression. Have the Valpak mailing label handy and fill in your information exactly as it is printed.

Valassis Direct Mail, Inc. You can write to them at Consumer Assistance, P.O. Box 249, Windsor, CT 06095 or call 1-800-437-0479. Unsubscribe from their RedPlum publication at redplum.com/tools/redplum-postal-addremove.html.

If you want to keep going with this endeavor, go to us.epsilon.com and fill out the email form. Type “remove” in the subject line along with your full name, including middle initial, and address in the message. If you changed your address over the past six months, include your previous address as well.

That should do it!

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]


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