- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

I've moved quite a few times in my life and, no, I was not an Army brat. It can be quite unsettling to start settling into a new house.

Four months ago, I moved into my current home, and I'm just now getting to rearranging the shop.

Nevertheless, there is one aspect of moving that's pretty painless, and that is forwarding your mail and letting the important people in your life (your mother, family and the Internal Revenue Service) know where you are living.

You would think this would be an easy task. But it's amazing how much mail I keep getting from people I know who haven't updated my address yet. When you think about it, there are so many programs where they may have the address located: in a computer-based contact management program, such as Outlook or Act; in a personal digital assistant (Palm, etc.); or even in a bona fide, hard-copy address book. If you move as much as I do, you may even have several entries.

I've found it easier to start notifying everyone about my move after I'm finished moving except for the folks at the post office. I let them know about a week in advance. If the mail can at least get forwarded to me in a timely fashion, then I'll find out who really needs to know that I've moved.

Forwarding mail to your new home is as easy as filling out a change-of-address card available at all post offices and submitting it to the post office that delivers mail to your old address. Within about a week, you'll start receiving mail forwarded from your old address.

The Postal Service suggests you notify your correspondents of your new address directly, but, frankly, I'm trying to get away from some of those correspondents. There is some online help for this (www.usps.gov/moversnet). Once you fill out the above mentioned card, your first-class mail will be forwarded for one year, periodicals (second-class mail) will be forwarded for 60 days, and standard third-class mail will not be forwarded unless it contains the proper endorsement by the mailer.

It's easy to remember to whom you should send change-of-address information when you receive monthly reminders from them, such as magazines, credit card companies, etc.

It's the ones that you may not deal with on a regular basis that might slip through the cracks, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or voter registration, or your auto and health insurance companies.

Once your phone line is hooked up, it's good to just take a day, sit down with the phone, pull out all your bills and everything out of your wallet and start dialing the customer service numbers. This gets it out of the way and your life back on the fast track.

One of the things I like most about moving is getting rid of a lot of the junk mail. But this last time, I was not so lucky. Instead, after filing for, waiting in line for and paying for my new driver's license, I discovered that my name apparently was slipped to local businesses and now I'm on a whole new mailing list of marketers.

Actually, some of the old groups have caught up with me again several months later. This is because of a neat service from the Postal Service called Address Service Requested. During the first 12 months of the change of address order, mail is forwarded and the sender (read direct mail marketer) receives a separate notice of the new address information. So that's how they keep on coming.

Fortunately, you can be removed from mailing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and requesting to be removed from direct mail marketing lists.

What I love about the Internet is that everything is a click away, and so is this task. DMA has an online form to be removed from lists or you can contact the organization the old fashioned way. Here is the contact information:

• Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735-9008.

• FAQs about direct mailing lists (http://www.the-dma.org/ consumers/offmailinglist.html)

• Online form to get off mailing lists. $5 fee. (http://www.the-dma.org/cgi/offmailinglistdave)

M. Anthony Carr is a Washington-based writer who has written about real estate issues for more than a decade. Contact him by e-mail (manthonycarr@erols.com).

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