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Answering the junk-mail call

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POSTED: October 22, 2013 10:00 p.m.

I went to my mailbox the other day and was surprised to find absolutely nothing inside.  
I was ecstatic! It’s rare that a mailbox goes empty these days (excluding Sundays and holidays). Usually, our mailbox is overflowing with junk mail or, as the Unites States Postal Service officially calls it, “standard mail.”
There’s been a move by the USPS to increase the amount of standard mail that lands in our mailboxes. With billion-dollar losses and significant declines in first-class mail, the post office is dealing with businesses and direct-mail marketers to increase the number of sales pitches, catalogs, credit-card invitations and the like that are being sent to our addresses.
According to allgov.com, 48 percent of all mail currently delivered is considered standard mail. But the USPS wants to deliver even more.
And you can’t get away from it. Ever wonder why junk mail follows you when you move and change your address? That’s right; the USPS shares your new address with all those wonderful companies. Makes “cents,” doesn’t it? Of course, junk mail is not junk if you like receiving it — that’s what the U.S. Postal Service is counting on.  
Last year, according to allgov.com, 84 billion pieces of junk mail were sent out by the USPS; half of it went to my mother. OK, maybe I exaggerated a little, but she does receive a tremendous amount — as do a lot of other senior citizens. I have noticed that most senior-living communities now have a garbage can sitting right next to the mailboxes. Hmmm.  
Now fast forward a few decades. By the year 2035, I suspect most seniors will only have an email address for receiving and sending correspondence (that’s assuming that technology has not advanced to something even greater — probably a bad assumption). Where is all that junk mail going to go then? If I was in charge of the USPS, I’d start right now trying to discover a new way to lose money.
I did some research to find out how mom can cut down on the junk mail she receives. Here’s what I discovered. Mom does everything you should not do if you do not want to receive your share of junk mail.  From entering the Publishers Clearinghouse and Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes, to buying items from a mail-order catalog … she does it all, and all of these organizations share her name on mailing lists that are sold and dispersed to other companies.  
She also donates money to charities through the mail, which is very thoughtful. But many of these organizations also share mailing lists. Needless to say, she is receiving solicitations from every charity known to mankind. Fortunately, some charities have a box you can check on the solicitations if you do not want your information shared with others. Still, you may have to contact them directly to make this request.
You also can significantly reduce your junk mail by contacting the Direct Marketing Association’s DMA Choice program. Registering with them places your name and address in a “do not mail” file that is updated monthly. Businesses who are not members of the DMA also take advantage of this “do not mail” list, so registering with the DMA can make a big difference in the volume of junk mail you receive. You must re-register after three years.
For more information regarding junk mail and your privacy rights contact Privacy Rights Clearinghouse at www.privacyrights.org and browse the left-hand margin.
Press on, my friends.

DeLong is the executive director of The Suites at Station Exchange. Email him at Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com


 

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