If you’re like most people, you probably get a lot of unsolicited advertisements in the mail, otherwise known as “junk mail.” And if you’re like most people, you probably throw most, if not all, of this mail directly into the trash without even glancing at it. But you could be throwing away some big money without even knowing it. Here’s how I turned my junk mail into over $1200 in cold, hard cash.
Many times, junk mail comes in the form of a real, physical check made payable to you. As the advertisement probably points out, this is an actual check that you can go to the bank and cash. Usually junk mail checks range anywhere from $4.00 to $75.00. As you probably know, the checks come with “strings attached.” By cashing the check, you are usually agreeing to some sort of special offer, anything from a trial in a “discount service” to switching your long distance company.
Most of the time, after you cash the check, you are enrolled into some sort of trial offer that you have to cancel after a certain period of time or else you are charged. This is why most people throw the checks away. The $10 check “isn’t worth” the time and hassle it takes to cancel the trial offer or switch back your long distance service. However, I would like to point out that this might be misguided.
For example, the most recent junk mail check I received was from my credit card company. By cashing this $8.00 check, I was enrolled in a 30-day free trial of “Wallet Security,” a service that they claim will protect me from identity theft. Now, I certainly was not interested in this service, and the check clearly stated on the back that if I didn’t cancel within 30 days, they would charge me a whopping $120 for a year of this service. But the check also stated that I was free to cancel within the first 30 days, not be charged, and that the $8.00 was mine to keep. It sounded good to me, so I dropped it off at the bank with my next deposit.
When I got home from the bank, I just made a note on my calendar for a couple of weeks in the future. I wrote the name of the service and the 800 number (also on the check) I needed to call to cancel. When that date rolled around, I called and cancelled. Of course, the representative tried about 10 different times to get me not to cancel. But I was persistent, and finally he confirmed that my service was cancelled. The whole process, including cashing the check and making the phone call, took about 15 minutes of my time, for an $8 payout. If you do the math, that comes out to $32 an hour. Not bad for not really doing anything at all.
Here’s where it gets really good…once you cash one junk mail check, the company shares the good news with other marketing firms and checks start pouring in. As the title of my article states, I’ve made over $1200 in 2 years by cashing junk mail checks. Not enough to live off of, certainly, but not exactly pocket change, either.
With a little organization, you too can play the junk mail game. I’ve been careful and I’ve never accidentally gotten charged for something I didn’t want…but the companies are definitely banking on you forgetting to cancel whatever service it is they are offering, so make sure to take good notes. I like to make a copy of the front and back of each check and keep it in a file. That way, I know the exact terms and conditions I agreed to by cashing the check. Also, make sure to keep track of all those checks…$4.00 here and $10.00 there might not seem like a lot, but those little bits do add up quickly.