Stop Junk Mail

The Science of Junk Busting

Dr Junk Buster

How do I stop junk mail at my old address?

"I have recently moved house, and had my mail redirected. I need junk mail to stop at my old address. How do I do this?"

I'm assuming it's the case that your mail is no longer redirected and that you've found that addressed junk mail is still being sent to your old address. Also, I assume that you just want the sender to leave you alone (and not send the junk mail to your new address!).

The Data Protection Act 1998 states that organisations have to make sure that personal data they keep is “accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date”. In order to force senders to remove your old address from mailing lists you should write to them (sending an e-mail should suffice) to let them know you have moved. If the sender continues to send advertisements to your old address after 28 days from the date of your letter / e-mail you could ultimately take them to court. More information about this can be found on the website of the Information Commissioner's Office.

The Data Protection Act also gives you the right to ask any UK organisation to stop processing your (up to date) personal details for 'direct marketing purposes'. So, after you've asked the sender to correct your address details you can ask them to stop sending your junk mail altogether. You can combine the two steps by amending the data protection notice example letter that can be found in the Guide to Stamping Out Junk Mail. The following example letter should do the trick:

[ Your full name ]
[ Your full address ]

[ Today's date ]

Data Controller / Company Secretary
[ Organisation's full address ]

Dear Sir or Madam,

Inaccurate address details / notice under the Data Protection Act 1998 not to use my personal information for 'direct marketing'.

This notice is to advise you that I, [ your full name ], no longer live at [ your old address ]. I understand the fourth Principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 requires you to keep personal data accurate and up to date, and trust you will remove the incorrect address details from your database as soon as possible, and in any event within 28 days of the date of this [ letter / e-mail ].

Please note that I do not wish to receive 'direct marketing' at my new address: [

your new address

]. Under Section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998 I require you to stop processing personal information relating to me for 'direct marketing' as soon as possible and in any event within 28 days of the date of this [ letter / e-mail ].

If you do not normally handle these requests for your organisation, please pass this [ letter / e-mail ] to your Data Protection Officer or the person who does.

Please note that if you do not comply with this notice, I can apply to the court for an order against you under the Data Protection Act.

Yours faithfully,

[ Your name ]

There's no set format for these notices. Feel free to amend it as you see fit - but make sure it covers all the points listed on the above-mentioned page about contacting junk mailers.

Finally, the new occupant(s) at your old address could register your name at your old address with the Mailing Preference Service. This is unlikely to be very effective as the opt-out scheme only applies to members of the Direct Marketing Association, but it should help.