Stopping junk mail
Receiving mail that you don’t want can be irritating, inconvenient, intimidating and can cause a great deal of distress.
There are things you can do to prevent or reduce it.
Register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS)
Registering with MPS will stop most unwanted advertising material that is addressed to you personally and delivered to your home address by post.
Any mail from companies or charities that you've already asked to receive will continue to be delivered. You can only stop this kind of mail by contacting the organisation directly.
Registering with the MPS will not stop you from receiving un-addressed leaflets, mail addressed to ‘the occupier’ or free newspapers.
Opt out of being on the edited electoral register
When you register to vote you can choose for your details not to be added to the edited electoral register. This list can be bought by any person or company and may be used for any purpose – including sending unwanted mail.
If you would like to opt out you should tick the box to ensure that your details will appear on the full register only.
You can check whether you have opted out, or decide to opt out at any time of year by contacting Electoral Services.
Tick or untick the box
You may have given name and address to a company, for instance when buying a product or service. If you don’t want any further information about ‘other products and services’ you should look in the small print and tick the box to say no.
Some companies ask you to untick the box instead. Be careful to always make sure you are selecting the right option.
Return to sender
If you receive unwanted mail with a return address on the envelope you can write ‘unsolicited mail, please return to sender’ on the envelope and put it back in the post unstamped.
The sender will have to pay the return postage and might remove your details from its mailing lists. Most companies will understand that there is no point in continuing sending further advertisements and leave you alone.
Contact the sender
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, any organisation has to stop using your personal information for direct marketing purposes if you ask them to do so.
This is a very effective way of stopping unwanted mail as they can't refuse to take your name, address and any other personal information off their mailing list.
To do this, you must contact the organisation directly. Make sure you:
- put the notice in writing (this can be an email)
- make it clear that you are asking the organisation to ‘stop (or not to begin) processing your personal data for direct marketing purposes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998'
- put the date on your notice
- give the organisation your full name and address
- include a reasonable date from which you want the organisation to stop processing your personal data (usually a period of 28 days)
Stopping mail that is not addressed to you
There are various ways you can opt-out of unaddressed junk mail.
Opt out of Royal Mail Door to Door
The Royal Mail Door to Door service delivers unaddressed mail, usually marketing material such as leaflets or brochures, on behalf of companies and organisations.
You can reduce the amount of 'unaddressed’ mail you receive by registering with the Royal Mail's door to door opt-out service. However, this will not stop mail addressed to 'the occupier'.
Register with the ‘Your Choice’ scheme
The Your Choice Preference Scheme for Unaddressed Mail helps householders reduce unaddressed unwanted mail delivered by members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). To opt out you need to ask the DMA to post you an information pack and opt-out form.
After you return the opt-out form it will take 12 weeks before you stop receiving unwanted mail. The ‘Your Choice’ opt out does not cover unaddressed mail that is not delivered by members of the DMA.
You can put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your door to stop unaddressed unwanted mail delivered by local businesses.
Get a letterbox sticker
The Stop Junk Mail campaign group sells two types of letterbox stickers. If you want to stop leaflets but do want to receive free local newspapers they have a sticker saying ‘No Commercial Leaflets, Yes Free Newspapers’. If you want to stop both leaflets and free papers there is sticker with the text ‘No Commercial Leaflets, No Free Newspapers’.
Find out how to get a letterbox sticker from Stop Junk Mail at www.stopjunkmail.org.uk.
Stopping junk mail being sent to someone who has died
Receiving junk mail that is addressed to someone who has died can cause a great deal of distress. There are several services which allow you to register a person’s death. They will ensure that the person’s name is removed from marketing mailing lists and databases. For details visit the bereavement service section.