Opting Out

Oct 2nd, 2010 Posted in services | Comments Off on Opting Out

One of the things that apparently happens when one moves across the country is they get a metric sh*t-ton more junk mail than ever before. I’m guessing this has as much to do with purchasing a new home as anything else.

my new house

Since moving here I have been receiving credit card offers, annoying coupons for stores and services I would never use, loan offers, insurance offers, catalogs, and lots of other paper destined to go directly to the recycle bin.

Today I decided to do something about it. I had forgotten these services existed, so perhaps you have too:

One Ringy-Dingy

Many of us are aware of the National Do Not Call Registry where we can register our phone numbers to opt out of telemarketing calls. If you’re unsure if you’ve already registered, the Registry also provides a verification service. I was able to find an old email confirming that, yes, I have indeed registered.

Snail Mail

DMA Choice is run by the Direct Marketing Association. You register for their free opt-out (or opt-in) services by providing your name, mailing address, and an email address. You then have options to control the number and kind of catalogs, magazine offers, and “other mail offers” you receive. The category “other mail offers” includes mail addressed to “Occupant,” which I particularly like.

DMA Choice is super easy if you want to opt out of everything. If you want to be selective, DMA Choice is probably annoying (and probably time consuming). You can read their FAQs here and a nice “about” page here. DMA Choice also allows you to opt out of commercial email. I didn’t do this, because my spam filters are great.

I  just might love Zumbox

Want to go a step farther? Try Zumbox, a promising new “digital postal mail” service that allows you to receive paper-based, postal mail via a secure, online system. It’s free! Start by signing up with a user name, password, and your email. Next, you’ll give Zumbox your physical mailing address. You’ll receive a postal mailing from them that includes a registration number (kind of like receiving a PIN for your credit card). You’ll then enter that registration number to activate your Zumbox account. But then?!? ZOWIE!

You’ll be able to notify senders that you’d prefer paperless mail. You’ll be able to read your paper mail while on vacation (maybe not a good thing), and you’ll be reducing the amount of paper you recycle each week. I think it’s important to note that Zumbox is not an email system. They use email to notify you when you have mail in the secure Zumbox system. You can read their FAQs here and their Help pages here. I’m pretty interested in the future of this system and others like it, so I signed up for the service.

One of the things Zumbox allows you to do is send mail to your social network contacts without needing their physical address. You send a request to your contact, and when/if they accept your request you’ll receive a barcode address label to affix to your envelope or package.

Credit? We don’ need no stinkin’ credit

If you get annoying pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, you’ll need to go through OptOutPrescreen to put a halt to them. This service is associated with the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experion, etc.,), so it requires quite a bit more personal information. The site encrypts transmitted information, and it uses up-to-date security protocols. The service will be more effective if you opt out using your social security number, however it’s not mandatory that you do so (see the security FAQs here).

Talk to the Man

Finally, the Federal Trade Commission provides helpful information and resources for reducing spam and maintaining privacy. Use your government!