Some background on direct mail

You would be surprised if you knew how many mailing lists you were on and how mailing list vendors got your name and address. Virtually any transaction where you give a company your name and address can, and most often does, result in your name being added to a mailing list. Most companies, even if you ask them not to, will put you on their own mailing list and will sell your name and address to others, even if you explicitly ask them not to.

Mailing lists also come from public records information (county property transactions, etc.). If you own a home, you are on a list.

Mailing lists come from:

  • Companies you have ordered a product from
  • Warranty cards you send in
  • Public records (property transactions, etc.)
  • Voter registration lists
  • The US Postal Service
  • Financial institutions
  • Utility companies

Basically, anyone that has your name and address and possibly any other information about you can and often does sell that information to mailing list vendors. Even the US Postal Service, despite their insistence that they do not, provide marketers with your name.

A few years ago, the rules for financial organizations changed and they are now allowed to sell your personal information (including information that indicates how affluent you are) to outside parties - you have to specifically opt-out with each of your financial organizations to stop this from happening.