8 On Your Side: How to cut down on catalogs, junk mail, emails and calls

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The political season is over, and now the holidays are in full swing. As soon as we threw out the political mailers, our mailboxes became stuffed with holiday catalogs. 8 On Your Side’s has suggestions to stop being bombarded.

Ask almost anyone on Tampa’s Riverwalk, and they’ll tell you it’s called “junk” mail for a reason. “I just dump it. How do I get rid of it for good? I don’t know? How do you do that?” Debbie Martinez asked.

On average, people get about forty pounds of junk mail every year, according to Earthwatch.org.

Here’s how you can try to make it stop.

The Federal Trade Commission has several suggestions. First of all, get “online” to “opt out.” You can do that at a few websites, including DMAChoice.prg or CatalogChoice.org.

Just keep in mind, you’ll have to give up some of your personal information – and it’ll likely take 30 to 90 days to take effect. That means it’s probably too late for this holiday season. Still, down the road, it could save you a few headaches and the planet a few trees.

Here are more opt-out ideas:

  • Black out the bar code and address on all junk mail that is delivered using First-Class Mail. Put a circle around the postage and write, “Not accepted: return to sender.” This can be put in any mailbox, and it will be returned to the business that sent it.
  • Request a 1500 form from the U.S. Postal Service to stop the delivery of sexually explicit material. Download it here.
  • Call 1-800-5 OPT OUT to stop mail generated from the three major credit reporting agencies. This will stop the majority of credit card offers.
  • Contact by phone, mail or email all companies that send out catalogs and request to be taken off their mailing lists.
  • Call 1-800-645-9242 to be taken off the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes Mailing list.
  • Contact American Family at 1-800-237-2400 to be removed from its sweepstakes mailing list.
  • Call or write the Direct Marketing Association and ask them to activate the preference service. This will eliminate close to three quarters of all direct mail for five years. You will need to sign up again after five years.


The federal government’s National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, go here or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Telephone numbers on the registry will only be removed when they are disconnected and reassigned, or when you choose to remove a number from the registry.


The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a “delete” file and made available to direct-mail marketers and organizations. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA’s Mail Preference Service, go here or mail your request with a $1 processing fee to:


Direct Marketing Association

P.O. Box 643

Carmel, NY 10512

Here are more helpful links:


The DMA also has an Email Preference Service (eMPS) to help you reduce unsolicited commercial emails. To opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial email from DMA members, go here.

Registration is free and good for six years.

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