I get a lot of mail. I get tons of magazines each week. I get all kinds of offers in the mail. While my mail carrier manages a meek smile when he sees me, I know deep down he doesn’t appreciate me breaking his back with my popularity measured in the pounds of paper he has to lug over every day. 


While I generally love getting mail, there are two exceptions I never
wish to receive again in my life: Pre-Approved Credit Card applications
and Insurance offers. I probably get 10 of each per week and if I
accepted them all I could personally charge the entire bill for the war
in Iraq at a variable 9.98% rate plus Prime on my cards and I could
purchase insurance coverage for all the people in New Orleans slammed
by Hurricane Katrina to make sure they’d never again have to wonder if
they are “protected for that unexpected emergency.”

Since I have no interest in creating my own national debt or in being
the new contact person for national flood insurance, I always feed
those Credit Card and Insurance offers directly into my shredder
without opening them the instant I get them. I fear having that kind of
mail mis-delivered and suddenly finding out a year later, when bill
collectors come repossessing, my “exclusive offer” landed in someone
else’s more desperate hands.
One day last week I couldn’t resist the tempting “you won’t be able to
resist this tempting offer!” statement scrawled in
blood-red-pretend-handwriting across the front of a credit card offer.

As I ripped open the envelope I noticed at the bottom of the offer page
the right to participate in an “Opt Out Prescreen” program that would,
as I understood it, STOP all the credit card and insurance offers that
imprison my mailbox each day.
Could it be my captor had finally become my liberator?
I could call a toll-free number and request to be put on a “Do Not
Contact” list or I could sign up over the web. I decided to visit the
website to see if the fuss was honest and legal — I know those words
don’t always belong together — or if I was going to be met with a
blood-red screen happily informing me I had unwittingly accepted their
six-month zero interest offer.

I was pleased when I read around at www.optoutprescreen.com
because it all seemed to be legitimate. I decided to sign up for the
“never contact me again as long as I live” option instead of the credit
card and insurance company friendly “give me a five year break and then
when I forget I’m off your lists, snow me under again with paper
offers.”

The process was quick and clean — though they did ask me
TWICE if I was absolutely certain I never wanted to ever be contacted
again — I repeatedly clicked my reassurance and finally felt a great
amount of empowerment after it was all dead and done.
I could have used the phone route — 1-888-5-OPT-OUT — if I didn’t
trust the website but I always prefer reading over listening so that’s
why I used the web.
If you would like to get out from under the blizzard of credit card and
insurance offers that weigh down your mail box every day, you can earn
some satisfaction knowing the national Opt Out Prescreen program is
legitimate.

The official website of the Indiana Attorney General
even suggests this Opt Out plan as a good way to safely buy back some
quiet in your life and you won’t owe a penny for the peace.

17 Comments

  1. Great stuff! I signed up immediately and will suggest the same for the boyfriend. I was just spending my morning sorting through all the junk mail to throw away…I have enough to clean here without all of that. It doesn’t help the boyfriend is paranoid I will throw away something important 😛

  2. Super news, Robin! My wife also signed up. They warn you it might take several weeks to get off the lists but we haven’t had one thing show up since we signed up so it must be working pretty fast somehow.
    Hey, I sent you a WordPress.com invite. Look for it in case it gets diverted to a Spam bucket or something. :mrgreen:

  3. Carla – Super! I’m glad you’re in and running. Your site looks great!
    Robin – Glad to hear you have the invite. When I saw you had a Gmail address I wondered if a WordPress.com invite might get routed out of your inbox. 😆
    You have seven days to decide or WordPress.com will automatically revoke the invitation.

  4. Hey Robin — Crackin’? Always! :mrgreen: I have a feeling if the invite expires I get it back so I can send it again. It looks like I can also delete an invite myself if I wish — and that would be interesting to see what happens if someone tries to accept a revoked invite. 🙂

  5. I really haven’t been to this blog in far too long. Once again another top-notch offering.
    I actually work in Telesales (boo, hiss!) and I know the best way to have a bit of fun with Telesales people. Sometimes people will still call even if you’re on a preference list not to be called, as sometimes things slip through the net, but when this happens, don’t instantly volunteer this information to the salesperson.
    Instead, feign interest, get their full name, the company’s name, the company address, telephone number, as much information as you can. Then pull the trigger and tell them you’re on the preference list. I can assure you this will have them terrified as companies and salespeople who call people on the list are liable to pay large fines.
    That said, those systems do work 99% of the time, because we signed up at home and I haven’t had a sales call since.

  6. Empowerment…maybe. But, there is no passive-agressive satisfaction like opening up those credit card offers and preapproved offers, shredding the contents, stuffing their “no postage required” return envelope with the shreddings, and sending it back via mail. It may sound like I’m a quack, but they have to pay the postage and man, it feels good.