paper spam

My home address is as unlisted as I have been able to make it, but 98% of the paper mail I get is still glossy postcards with smirking goateed realtors on them. Every few months I email them asking them to stop, and they apologize and then keep sending their shit.

One of them said they get their lists from SF county tax records.

I'm guessing there's no way to get off that list, but I eagerly await you, lazyweb, telling me that I'm wrong, and that there's some way to stop this glossy flood of waste and insipidity.

I'm considering just having my mail slot welded shut.

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36 Responses:

  1. jayp39 says:

    I like to send junk mail back to junk mailers. I take their SASE and stuff it with offers from someone else, and the original envelope. It's bulky, so they end up having to pay out the ass for it. I make sure to remove my personally identifiable info, just in case.

    Some of them have started getting clever, sending me offers with a phone number to call, but no SASE.

  2. vees says:

    The last thing that ought to be a secret is who owns real property. I'll take a little junk mail in exchange for sunlight in that system. Just be glad they don't list phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses in the records too.

    • hatter says:

      It doesn't mean that using this info for Evil should be allowed. In the UK, people used to use the electoral register for similar purposes. For the last few years though, you can opt out of the public register (i.e. the one that bulk mail and other firms can buy). The main register is still queryable by organisations that need it, but if somehow people get hold of the non-public register and use it to send bulk mail or whatever, they will be prosecuted.

      the hatter

  3. travisd says:

    Washingtonian magazine recently did an article on this -- looking at the public info for the DC power-brokers/rich/famous/etc.

    Some counties have the option to withold info from the online/published record. That seems rare. The other, popular option is to have someone else "own" the property (like a lawyer, or an LLC set up to own your stuff) and have their mailing address be somewhere else.

    I don't expect that any of them will stop those mailers who simply pay the post office to deliver something to everyone in a particular ZIP code.

  4. sclatter says:

    GreenDimes has totally worked for me. My husband, whose name I keep forgetting to add to their list, gets an order of magnitude more crap than I do.

    Worked even through a change-of-address, which usually reinvigorates the flow.

    Some of the lists won't let you off without written notice. GreenDimes actually sends you preprinted and stamped postcards that you just have to sign and drop into the mail.

    • babasyzygy says:

      I'm also happy with GreenDimes, and have the same experience - they'll even handle multiple addresses if you have more than one residence (see their FAQ). Plus, they offer warm fuzzies by planting trees in your name, too.

  5. matthew says:

    I give $36 a year to Green Dimes to get me off those lists. After a couple of months I've seen a marked decrease in the amount of crap we get.

  6. evan says:

    A coworker (in Mountain View) has these laminated "No Bulk Mail" bits that he offers for free, claiming taping them to your mailbox cuts down on this stuff. Seems fishy to me but it also seems like it's a lot of effort for him (her?) to have made these -- despite just being printouts of the phrase "no bulk mail", they're laminated -- if they didn't work.

    • nibot says:

      In Sweden one puts a sign by the mailbox that says "Ej reklam, tack!" by the mailbox—"no advertising, thanks." I don't know how effective it is, nor whether the Swedes have discovered unsolicited direct mail advertising.

  7. There's a special form you can use to stop people from sending you porn. The loophole is that *you* decide what's porn. You fill it out and give it to the post office, and apparently they get really pissy when people violate the order.

    The downside is that you have to re-file every month, `cause it only works for 30 days.

  8. ladykalessia says:

    A thread at work has suggested putting a sticker on your mailbox saying "no unaddressed bulk mail" or "no bulk mail" if you don't get any catalogs or newsletters. So far, we've had confirmation that this works in some parts of Mountain View and San Mateo, but no reports from SF yet. Worth a shot, I guess since the worst they can do is just ignore it.

  9. rapier1 says:

    Whats worked for us consists of a trashcan placed behind the mail slot.

    • jmtd says:

      I've long had this fantasy whereby I add a second mail slot to the door, mark one "mail" and one "junk", and fit a paper shredder below the "junk" one.

    • nibot says:

      At one of the co-ops in Berkeley they dealt with the perponderance of glossy junk mail by hosting a ... junk mail slip-and-slide!


        I wonder if jwz could simply tell the post office to consider his address non-deliverable? Opt out of the postal system altogether?

  10. violentbloom says:

    my favorite is getting those for our rental, well pretty much every rental uh people apartment building! also special is the refinance your's like sure I'll take some cash on the house that isn't mine!

    • mordant says:

      I've had people into my rental apartment to give me a 'free market evaluation'

      45 minutes later "well, thanks, but I don't own this property. I rent. BYE NOW."

  11. cdavies says:

    I've been thinking along the same lines of late, the only thing that it occurs to me that I could do is prosecute the offenders for littering. In the UK, that would have been a bloody good strategy since under the UK's Environmental Protection Act stipulates that fixed penalty notice should be served on litterers. If I could get everyone who received a flier to prosecute the company, then that'd be an awful lot of money.

    Unfortunately, my layman's reading of the act suggests it only covers public property. You can dump your crap through my mailbox with impunity, apparently.

    Who knows about SF? I know they tend not to like litter very much. Who knows what laws you may be able to get the bastards with?

  12. elegantelbow says:

    Whoever the realtor is, on their mailing they must identify their office phone number. Call the office phone number and ask for the broker in charge of the whole office. Politely, but firmly explain that you want all brokers in that office to *stop* mailing you.

    That might work.

    But, unlike the do-not-call list, there is no do-not-mail list.

    So, ultimately, it's hopeless.

  13. frandroid says:

    In Canada, you just put "No Junk Mail" on your mail slot and they stop giving you most junk mail that's not in an envelope. In my apartment building, it even stops the joe-blow operations that hand-deliver their junk mail (like local restaurants distributing their menus.) It works like magic, except that we just have sane regulations.

    /smug canadian

  14. baconmonkey says:
    Dead fish, old seaweed, etc. Mailed in cardboard box. Notice to pick up at station, 7 days. The postal supervisor warned our mailing specialist that he could be fined for mail service abuse, even as a recipient, should this happen again.

    deceased return to sender

  15. hatter says:

    If it's smallish companies (I get the impression they mostly are) then send them back a postcard explaining the price structure for handling any future mail they send you. Something like $100 per item should about cover your time, right ? They might not take it seriously the first time, but when a real invoice arrives at their offices for the first contravening item, they'll try somewhat harder to keep you off their lists. I'm assuming there's a US equivalent to the Small Claims Court to cheaply and easily persue small amounts like this, you can tune your fees to match the restrictions on claims.

    the hatter

  16. jkonrath says:

    The best solution is to get a woodburning stove or fireplace. The annoyance of junk mail will then suddenly become free heat.

  17. marklyon says:

    Most likely, they're using the Tax Assessor's database of addresses. By changing your address there, you'll likely be able to at least redirect that paper spam.

    Next time I'm in your fair city, I'll run by the courthouse and check the title, see if there's anything else giving them the address (usually the property description in your deed doesn't do that, since it doesn't have an address).

  18. boonedog says:

    I'd like to know how to make sure someone can't pay $19.95 to find out my home address and all that other fun stuff that I don't feel like having plastered all over for public access.

  19. jackbrinks says:

    A few years ago when renting a house in Menlo Park, the previous tenants received apparently every catalog they'd ever seen. We'd literally get 6 or 7 catalogs a day in the mail. All of the mailing labels had the previous asshat's name and the phrase "or current resident" on them, so when he moved they kept coming.

    We tried to talk to our mail carrier, but he said that there was nothing he could do about it. We went to the local post office where someone told us to write "REFUSED" in big letters over the mailing label and leave them as outgoing mail. Somehow this helped and in a few months we stopped receiving almost all of the catalogs. This also had the side effect of pissing off our mail carrier. No one likes refused mail I guess.

    I wonder how writing "DECEASED" would work.