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Some individuals object to the amount of unsolicited direct marketing mail or promotions they receive through their letter box (often referred to as “junk mail”). They find unsolicited mail intrusive and annoying. There are available options to reduce the amount of mail received.

An individual can register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) and thereby have their details removed from direct marketing mailing lists to reduce the amount of addressed advertising literature they receive. The MPS covers around 90 per cent of mailing lists. However, the MPS is not designed to stop unaddressed items of mail, direct mail delivered to the door or the delivery of free newspapers.

Although mail addressed to the “occupant”, “resident” or “homeowner” is not covered by the MPS scheme, it may be possible for an individual to “opt out” of receiving door-to-door mail items delivered by Royal Mail or other operators. However, it is fair to say that it is difficult to stop junk mail that is sent from another country.

This briefing paper provides an outline of what an individual can do to stop junk mail. It also briefly considers how unsolicited emails (known as “spam”) might be stopped using the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. A separate Library briefing paper sets out in detail the regulations which seek to address “Nuisance calls, unsolicited sales and marketing, and silent calls”.


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