When Joshua was seven years old, he loved to check the mail for me, it was his "job." He would scour the letters, as most kids do, looking for mail for himself. I would ask my girlfriends to send him a letter, just so he could receive mail! One day, he was bringing in an arm full of junk mail and paused to sort through it, looking for that golden letter. All of the sudden, I heard a huge shout as he ran into the kitchen where I was working.
"Mama!" he was more excited than just getting a letter in his name, "Mama! We won! We won the publisher's clearinghouse! We won ten MILLION dollars!"
I looked at the junk mail in his hand, saw that it was the usual clever packaging, designed to fool adults with the IQ of a seven-year-old. It was just a chance to be entered into the contest if we bought magazines.
How many of us waste valuable time, energy, and effort going through all the junk in our e-boxes and mailboxes? Not to mention the phone calls that come in the middle of watching the fabulous HBO series on John Adams! If you're wasting effort in this area, it's time to stop the madness. Here are a few tips on how to keep the junk mail junkies from poisoning your life:
- Listless - Get off mailing list by going to the Mail Preference Service registry of the Direct Marketing Association at http://www.dmachoice.org/ and select "Remove my name." This service is free and takes care of 80% of your problem with junk that arrives in the mail. It's good for three years at your current address, when you move, change it again.
- Numberless- To stop telemarketing solicitors, go to the National Do Not Call registry at 1-888-382-1222 or go to http://www.donotcall.gov/ and register all your phone numbers. Don’t forget to register cel phone numbers as well because these numbers are now released to telemarketers and the consumer pays for the call. Telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 30 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at this Website.
- Formless - When you register a product, you are opening yourself up to a whole new realm of junk. Most of these forms are for recalls, so just don't fill them out, the same goes for contests and sweepstakes--those are like standing on the middle of a wildlife reserve with a piece of meat in your hand and a bunch of hungry lions under the nearby trees--you're just saying "come and get me!"
- Creditless - Some of the most dangerous email are the preapproved credit forms you receive--these should be SHREDDED to avoid Identity Theft. If you call 888-567-8688 and give your social security number, you'll stop the mail and reduce your chance if ID theft.
- Anonymous-When you sign up for your grocery store card or other frequent buyer programs, you can do so anonymously, without giving vital information. Use a different name, with no address, to protect your privacy.
- Catalog-less-To opt out of catalogs (a frequent occurrance if you shop online), go to http://www.catalogchoice.org/ and stop the temptation from arriving in your mail.
A word of caution: the only instance in which you will give your social security info in order to opt out of junk is the credit card form. Do not ever release your SS # for any kind of other opt out.
Now, with all that extra time you have, go out and have a cup of coffee with a friend, take the time to enjoy those who enjoy your company because life is too short for high maintenance relationships or junk mail junkies!
America's Family Financial Expert (R)