No One Likes Junk Mail, So Here's How to Put an End to It

Three simple things you can do to eliminate catalogs, credit card offers and more from your mailbox.

Peter Butler Writer
Peter is a writer and editor for the CNET How-To team. He has been covering technology, software, finance, sports and video games since working for @Home Network and Excite in the 1990s. Peter managed reviews and listings for Download.com during the 2000s, and is passionate about software and no-nonsense advice for creators, consumers and investors.
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Peter Butler
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Checking your mailbox each day can quickly get overwhelming if it's jammed full of unwanted credit card offers, catalogs and coupons that will end up in the recycling bin. Junk mail is not only annoying and stressful, it's remarkably wasteful. Up to 100 million trees are cut down every year to print junk mail, according to the Sierra Club.

While it's not as simple as stopping telemarketing calls via the National Do Not Call Registry, you can eliminate junk mail from your box with a bit of persistence and know-how. Read on to learn how to get rid of useless mail. 

How to stop credit card, loan, mortgage and insurance junk mail

A good place to start is with financial junk mail, since it's the easiest to stop. The consumer credit reporting industry maintains its own opt-out list at OptOutPrescreen.com.

Simply provide your name and address and you can stop preapproved financial offers for either five years or permanently. (You can also opt back in to these offers if you change your mind later.) 

How to stop receiving catalogs

You can always cancel the catalogs you receive one by one by contacting each sender. Or Catalog Choice can do it for you, for free. Catalog Choice is a project related to The Story of Stuff and is funded solely by donations.

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After you register for a free account, search for catalogs by name and then remove yourself or others at your address (such as former residents) from the mailings. Catalog Choice will either manage the cancellation requests for you or point you to the page on the vendor's site where you can remove yourself.

Read more: How to track a letter or package

Catalog Choice also recommends registering with DMAchoice, a service run by the Data & Marketing Association that allows you to opt out of commercial mailings. It costs $2 for 10 years to request that your name be removed from direct-marketing lists in four categories: credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers and other mail offers. DMAchoice is also endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.

PaperKarma is another paid service that can eliminate junk mailers. Snap photos of any junk mailer logo then upload to PaperKarma with the name you want removed, and the service will take care of the rest. 

PaperKarma costs $4 a month, $25 a year or $60 for a lifetime membership.

How to stop getting coupons and marketing offers

Those advertising flyers addressed to "Current Resident" and blue envelopes full of coupons you never use? They're harder to stop because of the USPS' Every Door Direct Mail service, which mail-bombs neighborhoods by address, not name.

You can make a big dent by taking your address off the biggest marketing lists. Just request to be removed from the mailing lists of major junk mail senders:

The kind of junk mail you can't stop

These services can't stop people from walking around your neighborhood and putting flyers or coupons in your mailbox or on your front stoop -- even if you have a placard against soliciting. In that case, you may have to politely ask the person dropping off circulars to skip your residence.

For more tips, learn how to cut a cake with dental floss and how to remove contact lenses easily when traveling.