How To Stop Mailed Paper Catalogs and Other Junk Mail

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surlacatAs a follow-up to how to stop balance transfer checks, here’s all I know about stopping unwanted paper catalogs. Direct mail catalogs are like weeds. You unsubscribe from a bunch of them, but then later you buy someone a cast iron skillet and then – poof! – you get Sur La Table catalogs. I don’t need three different kitchen tools to remove strawberry stems, trim brussels sprouts, or cut grapes in half. I have a paring knife and opposable thumbs!

Unfortunately, there is no standardized way to unsubscribe from all or specific catalogs. Here’s what is available:

Catalog Choice. This appears to be the most up-to-date and thorough website, although you’ll have to do most of the work. Run as a non-profit that is unaffiliated with the direct marketing industry, serves as a database that helps guide you on how to manually unsubscribe from various catalogs. They used to offer something call the Mail Stop Envelope that let you mail them the address labels from your unwanted catalogs, but they discontinued the service. They also used to have an app called Mail Stop Mobile, but that is also gone. Sigh.

National Do Not Mail List. You can add your mailing address to the National Do Not Mail List run by here.

We can use our vast direct marketing expertise to get your name off of those lists. As direct marketers ourselves, we know that mail-order companies don’t want to waste their money sending mail to people who don’t want to receive it. This is the big one. According to their website, “ is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail.” However, the Consumerist warns us that Direct Marketing Association’s Opt Out Website Is A Joke and may not fulfill its promises. While writing this post, their website didn’t even load half the time. It’s still worth a shot.

Other Direct Mail lists. Other direct mail lists that you can opt out of include ValPak and RedPlum Mail.

Phone books / Yellow Pages. You can opt out at both Dex Media and to finally end delivery of those huge phone books.

Paper Karma app. I discovered Paper Karma a couple years ago, but I never could really tell if it worked or not since it takes months for catalogs to actually stop coming. The app store reviews indicate hit or miss success as well. Recently, I received reports that new users were being asked to pay $20 per year. That’s too bad as the fact that you just take a smartphone picture of the address label makes it so appealing. I just snapped another address label picture using their app (December 2016) and it went through without asking me to pay, but perhaps I am in some sort of grandfathered free account (or they give out a certain number of freebies?). If you can get it to work for free, this may also be worth the effort.

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  1. Just like with the previous one. You will remove yourself from VALUABLE targeted credit card and bank account offers.

    • Out of curiosity, in the past 12 months, what are your top 3 most valuable targeted offers that you received via snail mail and were not also available online? I honestly can’t think of many myself.

      • Derek Hopper says

        That’s kind of what I thought when reading Dan’s comment as well. Going through 1000s of pieces of junk mail to get one targeted credit card offer doesn’t seem worth it to me. That’s why I unsubscribed from those.

  2. I save my catalogs and once every couple months I spend 15 minutes e-mailing them all asking to unsubscribe. Usually one e-mail is sufficient. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of which ones I’ve unsubscribed from so I can note if someone sends me a catalog after my unsubscribe request. I shop online A LOT, and my MIL is always sending us stuff from random online retailers, but we don’t get many catalogs these days. I honestly think this approach is just as easy as mailing address labels to some service or scanning it into your phone or whatever.

  3. My experience is that a combination of and Paper Karma does work. Using both has eliminated at least 95% of my junk mail. Don’t expect quick results – some mailers took a year or more to finally stop. I had to create several accounts on to enter all the various name spellings of previous residents still getting junk mail.

  4. Finally a way to get rid of those three big yellow books I get far too often. Thank you!

  5. It’s a small world! — Long-time follower of your blog, I read this article with interest, as my company/team was hired to design and build the original Catalog Choice, including the Mail Stop Mobile app.

    Control of the service has changed hands a few times, and we’re no longer associated with its operation, and so I don’t know why they dropped the mobile app.

  6. I used Paper Karma for about a year and would say it cut down 75% of my junk mail. But yes, we were hit up for $20 fee after a year.

    Hints for using PK:
    -Make sure you use exact address on your mail, even if its misspelled
    -Sometimes it takes two or 3 times for process to take
    -Sometimes there are multiple addresses on sender mail, Use PK on all addresses found on mail

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