Monday, February 25, 2008

Junk Mail and USPS Change of Address

When we left California we filled out a form at the post office so all our mail would be forwarded to a post office box. It turns out this is a really bad idea. The US Postal service sells this information and your level of junk mail will skyrocket. Some sites recommend simply checking the temporary change of address option on the form. This seems like a great idea.

If you want to get off of the direct mail lists in the US, go to the Direct Marketers Association site and follow the instructions there on how to get off of the lists. I just did this. I'll report back to see if it has any impact on my level of junk mail.

We also get a lot of pre-approved credit card solicitations in the mail. Presumably we can get off of those lists as well by going to the OptOutPrescreen site and filling out the appropriate online form.

If you're wondering how come I still have to deal with junk mail even though I live in Vietnam, it's because we use Earth Class Mail as a way to handle our US Mail. The service is still pretty rough and the user interface stinks; but it's still a great idea and very useful. ECM provides a post office box address for you. When mail arrives, they scan the outside of the envelope and put that on their secure web site so you can see the mail. You can then use their web interface to deal with the mail. Typically you instruct them to shred, recycle, forward or even open and scan the contents of the mail. After they scan a letter, you can then download a PDF of the letter. This is a pretty nice service, especially when it comes to tax documents and the like.

The main drawback of the service is the fact that you get a limited number of document scans per month and a multi-page piece of junk mail can blow your entire scanning budget. There needs to be an option to simply scan one page of the document rather than the entire document itself. Once you see the first page, then you'll have a much better idea of what you want to do with it.