The US Postal Service maintains an online database that allows one to look
up the ZIP+4 code for any U.S. mailing address. It uses address ranges
instead of exact street addresses.
They have other products that are used for mailers to verify addresses, in
order to clean up their mailing lists and avoid wasting postage (and paper)
sending stuff to non-existent addresses. It seems to me that the USPS is
the only agency that is in a position to effect a reduction in direct mail
abuse. If mail recipients could easily opt out by notifying the USPS, who
could then identify such addresses as non-deliverable for unsolicited
commercial mail, or, at least, for unsolicited commercial bulk mail, then
mailers could be required to use such information to delete those addresses
from their mailing lists, subject to loss of mailing discounts, at least, or
to serious penalties. The system could be broadened to obligate all
mass-mailers and spammers to use the service, on a cost-recovery basis.
The ZIP+4 system has over 30 million records. A database with every
deliverable address in the U.S. would only be about 10 times as large, and
it would lots of additional uses that would justify the effort and allow for
the cost to be recovered.
I would be concerned about losing the ability to use direct mail for
Californians Against Waste fund raising, and doubt that direct mail could be
completely forbidden. However, it could be required to pay the basic first
class rate if it is not screened against the reject list.
Civic Services Manager
Integrated Waste Management Division
Environmental Services Department
777 N 1st Street, Suite 300
San Jose, CA 95112
100% San Jose. Recycle where you Live, Work and Play
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