Who likes junk mail? Nobody, that’s who. But how many people actually do something about it? Not very many, I wager.
My first real conscious frustration with junk mail started when I made my first monthly donation to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center last year, which was promptly rewarded with a completely unwarranted subscription to their monthly magazine. Renting a room with my grandmother, who is a very devout Christian, I was, quite frankly, horrified to find an issue of Vanguard sitting in the mail. As a queer person who is out to a grand total of zero blood relations, I freaked out. In the end, nobody suspected a thing (or at least, nobody said anything), but the point still stands: I could have been living in an even more conservative house, and getting something like this in the mail could have been one step short of a death sentence. And all for trying to support my local LGBT community. Not being able to opt out of their mail is a terrible, potentially devastating policy and it’s the reason I’m no longer giving money to them.
Lesson #1: Make absolutely sure that the charity I’m giving to isn’t going to send me a bunch of junk mail. If I can’t opt-out on the donation form, contact the organization and find out for sure from them. If not, tell them that they won’t be getting my money. (It’s a waste of precious funds most of the time anyway.)
What did help me stop the Vanguard subscription, though, was an app I discovered called PaperKarma. You take a photo of the offending mail with the app, verify your address, and submit. That’s it. The system automatically sends off a request to the organization in question to stop sending you mail. It keeps track of how many requests you’ve submitted, which ones are pending, which ones have succeeded, and which ones have failed. Vanguard has been vanquished. You’re next, Kaiser insurance solicitations.
Lesson #2: Use PaperKarma.
It’s also possible for US residents to opt-out of credit and insurance offers by phone for either 5 years at at time or even permanently. Being a young person, I’m a prime target for all sorts of pre-approved offers of this and that, so it’s no surprise that this sort of mail comprises the majority of my junk mail. So I’ve decided to opt out forever. For more information, check out the FTC’s Consumer Information site.
Lesson #3: Opt-out of as much as possible for as long as possible.