Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Stupid Revolution

As I take a few minutes to prepare for the coming week I thought I would share with you how I am waging war against junk mailers. Not spammers, but the old fashioned ones that fill my real-world mail in-box out by the road.

My desk is littered with projects to work on: proposals, bulging folders, an LLC tax return, and the mail from the past week that didn't look interesting enough to open right away. Sunday afternoon is when I catch up on it all.

In the boring mail stack are bills and the ever present catalogs, credit card offers and other financial product solicitations. The one day record at our home for the most credit card/financial product offers is seven (four from one company- CapitalOne), and in the mail order catalog category, the record is fifteen. Yes, I keep track.

I used to shred all the financial offers, fearing they might provide useful information for an identity thief rummaging through the garbage. Earlier this year the offers had increased in number to the point I had to start emptying my shredder 2-3 times a week, each time leaving clouds of paper dust on the floor and floating in the air. I needed another solution.

I no longer shred these offers. Instead, I remove the return postage paid envelope from each one and inside stuff all the offer contents, including the original envelope. I make sure any sensitive information is blacked-out except for my name and address, and I jot down a “no thank you and please take me off your mailing list” note on the offer summary page (this never works- but that's ok- read on). Then, I send the whole stack back to them to dispose of, on their dime.

Sometimes the junk mail is especially fancy- like thick glossy card-stock, velum, gold foil envelopes, or actual credit cards with “Your Name Here” stamped on them. In cases where the inserts are to big or wide to shove back into the return envelope whole, I rip them to fit.

One more bit of fun- I take other non-related trash laying around that doesn’t have any important or identifying information on it, and add that in too. Things like cigar wrappers, misprinted documents, printer paper-jam carcasses, scrap paper, you name it.

Sometimes, the envelope is so packed it won’t stay closed without wrapping scotch tape around it. I now only have to empty the shredder once a month. The office trash can is not filling up as fast either.

With the threat of identity theft increasing all the time, it angers me that these bozos are sending a never-ending flow of unsolicited financial documents with my personal information on them. This is my small and probably ineffective way of fighting back. But it is fun. It feels good to place 5 or 10 of these in the mail box at a time knowing the cost of printing, mailing, eating the return postage, and paying someone $5 an hour to open the envelope and rummage through the contents is taking a couple nibbles out of the elephants.

Want to join in? Let’s all do it and start a real revolution. If you do, send this post to a few friends. Oh, and if anyone has any ideas on how to combat all the mail order catalogs leave a comment.

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Anonymous said...

I heard of a guy who tapes the prepaid return envelope to a shipping box and fills it with heavy rubbish like old tires.

DigitalRich said...

That would be defined as "going nuclear."