Many households will receive a considerable amount of unwanted or junk mail during the course of the year. A lot of direct mail is poorly targeted and irrelevant and quite often is thrown straight in the bin.
There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of direct mail you receive.
Write to sender
Where mail is addressed to "The Occupier" or is personally addressed, you can write to or email the sender to indicate that you no longer wish to receive mailings from them.
Any organisation that receives written indication that you wish to be removed from their mailing list is legally obliged to stop sending you marketing materials within a reasonable time. This applies to companies that you already deal with, such as banks, credit card companies and utility providers - you may wish to request that they do not send you personally addressed marketing materials for their other services.
Register with the Mailing Preference Service
Many households still receive mail that is personally addressed to someone that lived there previously.
To reduce the influx of mail that has someone else's name and address on it, you can either write to the sender and indicate that the person named no longer lives at your address or you can register the previous occupier with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS).
While it can take up to four months for the MPS to have full effect, registering can reduce the amount of personally addressed direct mailings by up to 95%
You can use the MPS to register for yourself, other members of your household or a previous resident. Registering with the MPS is free of charge.
However, this will not stop mail that has been sent from overseas, mail addressed to "The Occupier", or unaddressed mail. You can also expect to continue to receive mailings from companies with whom you have done business in the past.
Occasionally it may be necessary to write to a company to request to be taken off their mailing list. If you would like to do this, the following templates will help you compose your letter:
- To reduce mail addressed to ‘The Occupier’ or unaddressed mail
- To reduce mail from companies you already have dealings with
Opt out of unaddressed mail
Unaddressed mail does not contain your name or address details and can include marketing materials such as flyers, circulars, supermarket leaflets and free newspapers. Some people call it junk mail.
Organisations that may send you unaddressed mail include local councils, central government, utility companies, public service organisations, charities, political parties, local education bodies, local shops and providers of local services.
There are two steps that can be taken to reduce this type of mail and we would advise you to do both:
- Register with the Your Choice preference scheme: the 'Your Choice' preference scheme is run by the Direct Marketing Association and allows you to ask distribution companies that are members of the Association to stop delivering unaddressed mail to your home.
- Opt out of the Royal Mail's Door-to-Door service: Door to Door is the Royal Mail's service that delivers unaddressed mail. Registering to opt out of this service will stop these items being delivered to your door within six weeks.
Tick the box
To avoid generating unwanted mail, when filling in any form (like applying for credit cards or entering competitions), make sure that you tick the box that says you don't want your name to be added to any mailing lists. This is normally at the bottom of the form or on the reverse.
Opt out of the edited version of the Electoral Register
The Electoral Register lists the name and address of everyone who has registered to vote. There are two versions:
- the full register is used for elections, preventing and detecting crime, and checking applications for credit
- the edited register can be bought by any person, company or organisation and could be used for different purposes, including marketing.
Your details appear on the full version of the register, but you can choose to exclude your details from the edited version when registering.
The person who fills in and signs the voter registration form must ask each person named on the form if they want their details to be included on the edited register. If you do not want your details to appear on the edited register, tick the box on the voter registration form to be excluded.
To find out more visit the Electoral Commission website.
Use online services
Many companies you deal with, including utility companies and banks, offer online services. As well as the convenience of viewing your account and paying bills online, you may also be able to stop receiving paper bills and statements.
You may also receive a discount too. For example, if you sign up to paper-free billing and Direct Debit with BT Online, the company will reduce their BT line rental by £1.25 each month. There are many companies which operate in this way, so contact your service providers for more information.