10 Tips for Ending Robocalls, Junk Mail, and More

Why does it always seem to happen just as you're sitting down to enjoy a nice dinner with your family?—the phone rings, and the solicitors are calling! Technology can be a double-edged sword; advances in communications make us reachable wherever we go—from the dinner table to a downtown diner—but those same advances have brought with them an avalanche of unwanted robocalls, sales pitches, and other colossal time-wasters. At the same time, unnecessary catalogs and circulars clog up the mailbox, as well as the local landfill. Not even your email inbox is safe from the landslide of objectionable advertisements and spam. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize the onslaught of unwelcome messages.
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Register Your Numbers

The Federal Trade Commission launched a National Do Not Call Registry in 2003 and since that time, some 230 million phone numbers have been registered on the service. Registration is free and can be done by visiting the website or by calling 888-382-1222 from the phone number you wish to register. The FTC promises that you will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number.

Fight Fire With Fire

Automatic, computer-dialed phone calls, also known as robocalls, can be blocked by using the same type of technology that enables them. Consumers can sign up for a free service, No Mo Robo if they have a land line that uses Voice Over IP technology. The service works by intercepting Caller ID information, and then hanging up on the robocalls, so you might hear one ring before the call is disconnected.

Download An App

Although the federal government has made it illegal for robocallers to target mobile phones without first receiving consent, yet that hasn’t stopped unscrupulous scam artists from hitting your cell with automated calls. To fight back against the onslaught of calls to your smartphone, there are a number of apps available for download: Truecaller is a Caller ID and spam blocking app to help you block unwanted calls and texts; RoboKiller, available for iOS, claims to reduce unwanted calls by up to 90% in 30 days. Call Control, available for Android, stops junk calls and texts from getting through to you.

Check With Your Phone Company

Many local telephone service providers offer a free or low-cost service called anonymous call rejection (ACR) to block unknown or hidden numbers. Some ACR systems force callers to reveal their identity by stating a name or entering Caller ID information. The service usually can be activated by contacting your local telephone company.

Sign In To Opt Out

Pre-screened credit card offers and insurance sales pitches are the bane of your postal carrier’s existence, and they don’t do anyone any good taking up space on the entryway console. You can choose to opt out of these offers online, or by calling 888-5-OPT-OUT, or by sending a written request to each of the major consumer credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans-Union. Keep in mind, in order to successfully opt out, you will need to provide certain confidential information, including your home telephone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Register Your Address

With Direct Marketing Association, you can decide what mail you do and do not want to receive for up to 10 years—for a small processing fee of $2. Alternatively, you can register by mail by sending a signed request with your name and address, along with a $3 processing fee.

Related: 8 Clutter-Cutting Strategies for Managing Mail

Contact The Companies Directly

If catalogs are clogging your mailbox, the best way to cut the clutter is to contact the sender directly (an office phone number is usually listed directly on the catalog). Catalogs are expensive to produce and mail; therefore most companies will take you off their mailing lists so that they don’t waste their marketing dollars on a uninterested party.

Fill Out A Form

The U.S. Postal Service has strict guidelines regulating certain types of mail, particularly sexually-oriented advertising. To prevent or stop receiving sexually-explicit mail, fill out the PS Form 1500; you can block specific senders or all mail with sexual content.

Use Your Spam Filter

All email programs come with some version of a filter to block unwanted junk email, or spam. When you get an unsolicited email, highlight the message and create a rule identifying it as spam. The steps involved differ by email platform, but generally speaking, your spam filter should get smarter over time and block more and more of the messages you don’t want to see..

Just Say No!

Don’t give out your home phone number, cell phone number, email address or any other personal information to businesses. It’s too late to go back in time and get your information from all the vendors, services, and businesses you’ve ever worked with, so you also can request to be removed from telephone, mail and email lists from companies that you have done business with in the past. Keep a record of your requests, and file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau if a company continues to pester you.

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