To some people, Unsolicited Mail is an opportunity to purchase something which they didn’t even know that they needed, for others, it is a waste of money, energy and is destroying the environment.
It is a paradox that although most people hate 'junk mail'. Over 60% of consumers admit to having purchased items as a result of door drop mailings.
How Do I Stop Junk Mail addressed to me?
Firstly, you need to understand that there are two types of unsolicited mail:-
- Addressed Mail and
- Unaddressed Mail
Stopping Unaddressed Mail
You can stop unaddressed mail delivered by the Royal Mail simply by writing to your local delivery office. The problem is that it will stop ALL unaddressed mailings and some of this may be important notices.
Stopping manual leaflet drops is slightly more difficult but a notice in your window saying no can help.
Stopping Addressed unsolicited mail is somewhat harder.
Your first port of call is to put your name on the Mailing Preference Service Register, commonly called the MPS. This is a register run by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
Most reputable companies will check their mailing file against the MPS register before sending letters. However, the MPS is not a legal requirement. Having said that, some companies are members of trade associations such as the DMA and it is a condition of their membership that any consumer mailing should be screened against the MPS before sending.
Companies are under a legal obligation to hold a 'Do Not Contact' list. If you actually contact a company and tell them never to call, fax, email or mail you again, they are under a legal obligation not to contact you.
register on the MPS
Where do companies get my name from?
A significant portion of UK consumer lists start from the Electoral Register.
Each adult is required to register with their local Council, who can sell these names to commercial concerns. However, there is an opt out clause. On the registration form, simply tick the 'opt out' box, or write to your Council advising them that you do not want your name and address supplied for commercial purposes.
The only exception to this rule are companies who use your details for credit referencing purposes – if this was not allowed, those people opting out would be unable to get a mortgage or obtain a credit or store card.
One of the biggest suppliers of consumer information is Experian – you can write to Experian stating that you do not want your name and address to be sold on. Another company to contact is Equifax, but there are hundreds of other smaller data owners.
contact Experian / Equifax
The other main source of information is companies who sell on the information to 'Selected Partners'. Read the small print on application forms, warranties, competition entries etc very carefully. There should be a small ‘opt out’ box on the form preventing the supplier reselling, or sharing your name and address. But be careful, some forms have an 'opt in' and by ticking the box you are giving your permission to distribute your name for commercial purposes.
If there is no box to tick, say on a competition, or customer comments form, write something similar to 'Please do not supply my details to any third party'.
How can I find out who is selling my name
One simple but devious way is to change something small on your details. For example you may change your middle initial, or slightly change the spelling of your first name. One word of warning, you may start getting duplicate records.
Companies are writing to people who are no longer at this address.
If you receive mail for a person who has left the property, simply write 'Gone Away' on the envelope (do not open the envelope if possible) and put it back into the postal system who will return it to the company concerned. You can give it back to the postman or put it in a letterbox.
- Do not write "refused" as the company may think that person still lives there.
- Do not obliterate the name and address or the company will not know whose record to mark
- If in a window envelope, put a sticker over the window with 'Gone Away' written on it.
Many of the larger companies feed details of this returned mail into the REaD Groups 'Gone Away Suppression' File and also the DMA's 'Xpression' File. Companies can screen their mailing files against these registers before sending.
Experian also maintains their own 'Gone Away' mailing file and you can advise them of the movers details.
If you receive mail for a person who has died, simply return the mail advising the company concerned of the situation. You should also place details of the deceased individual on both the Bereavement Register and the Mortascreen File. Most companies will screen against one or both of these registers before sending a mailing.
Register a Death on the Bereavement Register
Register a death on the Mortascreen File
Data Protection Act
We hope that you will find this simple guide useful. It can take months for mailings to reduce, but if after taking the above action you are still unhappy you can contact each company in turn and if that fails contact The Information Commissioner.
The 4th Principle of the Data Protection Act states that information which companies hold should be ‘Accurate and Up-To-Date’. If you are being sent mail to a person who no longer lives at that address then this is a breach of the Data Protection Act.
Stopping Unsolicited Phone Calls
It is unlawful for any commercial concern to make an unsolicited marketing or selling call to a telephone number registered on the TPS or CTPS Registers. This also includes charities asking for donations or other assistance.
Companies can, however, still make calls for Market Research and Fact Finding.
The TPS stands for the Telephone Preference Service and is a register for individuals, sole traders and partnerships. The CTPS, or Corporate Telephone Preference Service, is for non individuals such as Limited companies, PLC's, Schools, Charities etc.
Put my number on the TPS Register
If you believe your identity has been stolen, you can go to About Identity Theft for advice. About Identity Theft