Remember: You’re Probably Only Opted Out Of Bank Junk Mail For A Few Years

Here's a letter sent to a Consumerist reader in 2013, reminding him to re-opt-out of BofA junk mail.

Here’s a letter sent to a Consumerist reader in 2013, reminding him to re-opt-out of BofA junk mail, even though he was no longer a customer.

Have you ever cut ties with a friend or loved one, thinking you’d never want to see them again? Have you later had second thoughts about taking the axe (metaphorically) to that relationship and wished you could rebuild what you once had? When it comes to banks, many of them just assume that people who opted out of junk mail are just sitting at home regretting that they ever stopped asking for their mailboxes to once again be filled with credit card, mortgage, and savings account solicitations.

We first wrote about this last year, when a Consumerist reader — who wasn’t even a Bank of America customer anymore — received a letter from BofA reminding him that his 5-year-old junk mail opt-out with the bank was set to expire and that he’d have to contact BofA if he didn’t want to get back on the list of useless mailings that go right into the shredder.

In today’s L.A. Times, David Lazarus takes a closer look at the situation, pointing out that it’s not just BofA that puts a time clock on customers’ opt-out preferences. In fact, he writes that Wells Fargo’s opt-out only lasts for three years, meaning you’ll be saying “no” to WF junk mail more frequently than you’ll be watching the U.S. lose (or fight to a glorious draw) at the World Cup.

A rep for BofA tells Lazarus that the auto opt-out is really all about you, the customer, who Bank of America loves so much.

“We update consumer preferences on direct-mail solicitations every five years because individuals’ preferences may change in the interim and we want to make sure we have current information,” explains the rep.

Yes, the reason you haven’t bought your first home is because you opted out of bank junk mail and don’t know that Bank of America — which has been in the headlines on a regular basis for the last five years because of it mortgage practices — offers home loans.

Lazarus suggests a couple of ways to cut down on junk mail:

OptOutPrescreen.com is a site operated by the nation’s biggest credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, TransUnion. It allows you to opt out electronically of most credit and insurance junk mail for five years. If you want to nix these mailings on a more permanent basis, you’ll need to do so in writing.

DMAchoice.org is run by the junk mail trade group, the Direct Marketing Association. It allows you to opt out of a wide variety of junk mail from the DMA’s 3,600 companies and organizations.

We don’t know if either of these will help if some jerk who controls the mailing list changes your last name to “Is A Slut.”