mail-4Sometime in the fall of 2016 we realized that the hundreds of pieces of mail my father received daily were not only junk, but junk that was coercively (and misleadingly) soliciting donations. Unfortunately, for many reasons, he was not well-equipped to discern the truly coercive pleas of disreputable organizations from the very few solicitations of “reputable charities.”

Several actions over the last year or more contributed to the eventual slow-down of junk mail addressed to my dad:

  1. HE MOVED–and instead of forwarding his mail to his new apartment we had it forwarded to our house. We did not do a true change of address of any kind. Amazingly, it wasn’t long before we were receiving mail addressed to my dad at our address in addition to forwarded mail from his old address.
  2. PHONE CALLS–for some reason I hate the phone. So my wife (THANK YOU JULES)made phone calls to the “charities” and organizations that were soliciting with junk mail. She made calls (sometimes multiples) to over 800 distinct entities. Some took all of my web search skills to find phone numbers as it’s not uncommon for junk mail to have no phone number (“phone numbers are so old skool!”) on their letterhead. This was the most effective at stopping the flow of junk.
  3. EMAILS–for those for which we couldn’t find phone numbers I sent emails, Facebook messages or submitted forms on their websites.
  4. SNAIL MAIL–when we were particularly outraged or when the other methods seemed not to work we used their pre-paid reply envelopes to send passionately scrawled replies imploring them to stop–sometimes we just raged and other times we tried to appeal to their humanity.

Extreme measures? It was an extreme (but not uncommon) case.

SASE outgoing junk mailToday, on most days we receive less than six pieces (down from 50-100) of mail addressed to my dad. I don’t expect that we will ever be completely free of his junk mail–but at least it is no longer going to his mailbox! One of my lawyer friends tells me that their office still gets mail for clients that have been dead for years. But it is nice to know that ours has finally trickled down to a mere annoyance.

The take-home on a personal level? Be nosey. Be present. Be strong in confronting parents or grandparents about this kind of thing. Ruffle their feathers. Confront them. Don’t be passive.

The take-home on a broader level? The government–senior agencies, post office etc.–is doing little to nothing to address this type of elder abuse and fraud. They don’t have the will or the resources. It’s up to us–you and I–to continue to spread the word.



~ by kipwkoelsch on March 29, 2018.


  1. Fantastic, so we’ll written. So proud of both of you for all of your persistence.

  2. This is how I completely stopped my junk mail – yes I receive zero junk mail.

    1. Order free credit reports yearly and correct any misspellings of name/address for current/closed accounts.

    2. Opt out of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers thru the three major credit bureaus. Option of 5 years or permanent. Phone number 1.888.567.8688.

    3. DO NOT submit a “permanent change of address” with the post office – Instead use “temporary change of address”. Good for 6 months and renew for another 6 months. This is how your junk mail follows you.

    National Change of Address (NCOALink) “is a secure dataset of approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address (COA) records consisting of the names and addresses of individuals, families and businesses who have filed a change-of-address with the USPS”.

    The USPS National Customer Support Center (NCSC) in Memphis, TN can remove your information from the National Change of Address (NCOA) system. Please email your request to COAHelp@usps.gov, to the attention of Garry Moore, or contact them directly at 866-315-7856 X6453.. You may also cancel the change of address order by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or by visiting http://www.usps.com and providing the confirmation number.

    4. DO NOT write RTS (return to sender) on mail and return it. Most companies have a one time use list and can own any name that responds to the junk mail. The name/address becomes “property” from the rented list if you respond.

    Returning junk mail to direct mailers on their dime (by stuffing it back into their postage-paid return envelopes) may cost them some money and provide you with a bit of personal satisfaction, but it won’t cut down on the amount of junk mail you receive. In fact, it may actually increase your junk mail load, since the primary metric used to gauge the effectiveness of many direct mail campaigns is the number of responses received (even if those responses are negative).

    5. DO NOT send in warranty cards. Exception – we buy tools that have lifetime/10yr/5yr warranties and we must visit their website for warranty to be effective and we receive confirmation of that warranty.

    6. Provide the bare minimum of information when you register to vote. Email is voluntary so don’t volunteer information that isn’t required. Consider using a PO Box as an address, if you don’t mind traveling out of your precinct to vote.

    Also, opt out when registering to vote. Each voter registration department is different. Some Boards of Elections give you the opportunity to opt-out of political mailings when registering to vote, but some do not. Read the fine print on your voter registration form.

    7. Contact directmail.com , DMAchoice.org, Axciom.com, Epsilon.com AKA Abacus.

    8. Each company you do business (insurance, credit cards, mortgage, banks, etc) with should have a privacy policy which are usually mailed. Call number provided and opt out.

    9. Contact each mailer and ask politely to be removed from their mailing list. If being sent “current resident” and alike mail call mailer and have them search for your name/address for removal. This usually adds your actual name to the mailing list so then it can be removed via above references or simply by calling them back for removal.

    Now your junk mail should ONLY consist of charities, political and the few companies that you will have to jump thru hoops to be removed from. If your interested in removing said junk mail contact me at Removemyinfo80@ _mail.com (fill in the blank) or try googling company for removal requests.

    • Thank you. Those are some good, new-to-me strategies. We’ve managed to cut the mail that we still receive for my father down to 1-4 pieces a day at this point. Most of the effective (and most time consuming) work were the phone calls, emails etc to our list of over 900 organizations requesting to be removed from their lists.

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