The complete guide to avoiding spam

This story is part Try thatCNET’s collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.

Spam is too prevalent. Go to your mailbox and you will often come out with a big pile of ads, catalogs and financial offers. And it’s not just a nuisance: The Sierra Club estimates that spam uses up to 80 million to 100 million trees a year.

But it’s not impossible to slow down the flow of unwanted paper through your mailbox, although it may take some perseverance. While telemarketing calls can be stopped largely through the National Do Not Call Registry, eliminating all spam requires a few extra steps.

Here’s how to stop those financial offers, stem the tide of endless catalogs, and get yourself off marketing lists. (And here how to track a letter or package you To do want directly to your inbox.)

@cnetdotcom Tired of endless #spam? Here’s how to end it. #spammail#junkmail#howto#lifehack#trythis#usps#howtok#adviceā™¬ LoFi(860862) – skollbeats

How to Stop Credit Card, Loan, Mortgage, and Insurance Spam

A good place to start is financial spam, because it’s the easiest to stop. The consumer credit reporting industry maintains its own opt-out list at OptOutPrescreen.com.

Simply provide your name and address and you can stop pre-approved financial offers for five years or permanently. (You can also sign up for these offers again if you change your mind later.)

How to stop receiving spam catalogs

You can always cancel the catalogs you receive one at a time by contacting each sender. Or Catalog Choice can do it for you, for free. Catalog Choice is a project related to The Story of Stuff and is funded solely by donations.

After signing up for a free account, search for catalogs by name, then remove yourself or others at your address (like former residents) from shipments. Catalog Choice will handle cancellation requests for you or direct you to the page on the provider’s site where you can opt out.

Catalog Choice also recommends registering with DMAchoice, a service operated by the Data & Marketing Association that allows you to opt out of commercial mailings. It costs $2 for 10 years to request that your name be removed from direct marketing lists in four categories: credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers and other mail-in offers. DMAchoice is also approved by the Federal Trade Commission.

PaperKarma is another paid service that can eliminate spam. Take photos of any spam logo, then upload them to PaperKarma along with the name you want removed, and the service will take care of the rest. PaperKarma costs $4 per month, $25 per year, or $60 for a lifetime subscription.

Stop spam coupons and marketing offers

Those “current resident” flyers and blue envelopes full of coupons you never use? They’re harder to stop because of the USPS’ Every Door Direct Mail direct mail service, which bombards neighborhoods by address, not name.

You can make a big difference by removing your address from the biggest marketing lists. Simply ask to be removed from the mailing lists of major spammers:

Here’s the Kind of Spam You Can’t Stop

These services cannot stop people from walking around your neighborhood and putting flyers or coupons in your mailbox or on your front porch, even if you have a sign against solicitation. In this case, you may need to politely ask the person dropping off the flyers to skip your residence.

For more tips, find out how cut a cake with dental floss and how easily remove contact lenses while traveling.

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