July 27, 2002

A new study released shows that approximately 17 million US households receive at least occasional direct mail and telemarketing for the deceased. Four million households get "a lot" of direct mail and telemarketing for deceased persons.

Among those reporting solicitations for the deceased, about 20% described them as "highly offensive" and another 18% said they were "a major annoyance." Direct marketing for the deceased goes on for years. In another survey, 53% of people reporting this problem say that the person had been dead for a year or more, and 6% said the person had been dead for more than 10 years.

The sponsor of both studies -- Address Guardian -- estimates the average length of time a family deals with solicitation of the deceased is 6 years. "When you consider that less than two and half million people die each year, the fact that 17 million deceased people are being solicited clearly shows that direct marketing companies are not keeping their solicitation files up to date," said Jim Veilleux, President of Address Guardian. "Given the high profile of privacy in today's society, direct marketers are making a big mistake in ignoring this problem."

Although older people were the most likely to report solicitations for the deceased, younger households also reported significant levels of mail and telemarketing. Other groups that tended to get more direct marketing for the deceased included non-married persons, households without children, whites and those with higher education.

In addition to this survey of 1,000 US adults, Address Guardian has been conducting a survey of families using its service to stop direct mail to the deceased. In that survey -- which is ongoing -- more than 30% of respondents said they get 5 or more pieces of direct mail a week and more than 40% reported at least one call each week addressed to the deceased. Two thirds of respondents said that they were less likely to buy from companies that solicited the deceased.

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