Inundated by junk mail? You are not alone!

Here are some proven ways of reducing the volume of unsolicited mail you receive:

1. Notify the companies that send you unsolicited mail (including catalogs) that you do not wish to receive any future mailings from them. You can accomplish this in one of three ways:

A. Call the toll-free order number shown. Politely ask the customer service representative that answers to take your name and address off their list. Get the representative’s name and make a note of it before you hang up.

B. Write a letter to the Customer Service Department at the address shown on the catalog or mailpiece. Request in your letter that your name and address be taken off their list.

C. If a website is shown in the catalog or mailpiece, access it. Once at a company’s website, look for a header or banner that says “email customer service” or something similar; clicking on it should lead you to an email address or a form you can send on a web page. If you get a form you can send, simply enter the information requested and a note (in the “enter your message” area) requesting that your name and address be taken off their list; click “send” to send your message. On the other hand, if you get an email address, click on the link shown; your email program should open enabling you to compose and send a message.

IMPORTANT: To expedite your request, always include the customer number in your message. This is shown on your mailing label.

2.  Write to the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service and request that your name and address be placed in their MPS file. You should notice a reduction in unsolicited mail after several months.

NOTE: There is a small fee to sign up for this service. In addition to the regular junk mail opt-out service, there are junk mail opt-out services also for families of the deceased as well as individuals under the care of a caretaker (such as a guardianship).

3.  Support privacy issues, both in real life and on the Internet.

4.  If you use a Post Office Box for your personal mail, use it to your benefit. Never give out your street address - even on rebate request forms - unless you are required to by law (such as obtaining a driver's license (REAL ID requirement), registering your vehicle, or registering to vote, depending on the state where you live).

5.  If you are having problems with junk faxes, is a great site for more information and remedies available to you.

6. If you or members of your family are receiving unwanted sexually oriented mail (catalogs, advertisements, etc.) take the offending mailpiece to your post office and fill out a US Postal Service Form 1500, Application for Listing and/or Prohibitory Order, which can be found on the US Postal Service's website. Believe me, once the sender of any mail of this nature gets a prohibitory order from the US Postal Service removal from that sender's mailing list is guaranteed.

7. Don't sign up for any of these loyalty club programs you may see at your supermarket. While the lower prices may tempt you, actually you are trading your privacy because not only would you be targeted for junk mail, a dossier is being developed on you regarding your buying habits.

8. This is becoming a new trend since this page was launched along with the initial pages of in 2000: Fast food and fast casual restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks and Panera Bread (as examples) are aggressively demanding your name every time you go inside and place an order. DON'T DO IT! A restaurant will claim that it is an "accountability thing" (in fact, one restaurant claims it's "company policy" - what a lie!), but your name can be used together with your address (if you pay by credit card); this information - in bits and pieces - is aggregated together and you can eventually land on a junk mailer's list.

Remember the days when we had Eckerd Drugs here in St. Petersburg? When you went to pick up a prescription, you were being asked to sign a register claiming that it was an accountability thing; in reality you were giving Eckerd Drugs permission to send you junk mail tailored to your medical condition in disguise! The same thing when Radio Shack was around: When you bought something from Radio Shack the salesman took not only your name but your address as well for one purpose - end up on a mailing list so that Radio Shack can bombard you with junk mail periodically.

It is way different if you have an account relationship with a business, if you are purchasing tickets for travel on Amtrak or Southwest Airlines, if you are staying at a hotel or if you are renting a car. For a restaurant such as McDonald's or Burger King to ask for your name, it is none of their business!