How to Avoid Soliciting the Deceased
Suppression Files on the Market
For all types of mail, the U.S. Postal Service will continue delivering mail addressed to a deceased person until a "redirect" request at a local post office is made, generally diverting mail to an appointed executor or administrator. The Direct Marketing Association offers U.S. consumers a Deceased: Do Not Contact List, and has about 50,000 records actively on this file, representing the families and estates of persons who have asked expressly not to receive solicitations in their loved ones' names.
In addition, several commercial data providers (IMS is one of them) supplement the DMA list with their own deceased suppression applications, based on Social Security Administration and other more comprehensive publicly available records. Currently, IMS' Recently Recorded Deceased File, for example, contains 13 million U.S. names, all culled from death notices around the country; the file's updated monthly. Names remain on the service for a year, with many deceased persons having more than one record depending on name and address variations.
These deceased suppression services should not be used to halt mail or communication of an official nature. Thus, if a financial institution, utility or other business has a billing or contractual relationship, such communication regarding the relationship should continue until the household provides direct notice of a deceased customer. Often, a surviving spouse chooses to continue receiving mail to ensure all matters of an estate are final and there are no fiduciary obligations left to be met. However, this exception should not apply to communications that are purely promotional.
Where companies have had a direct relationship with the deceased, they can use the DMA Deceased: Do Not Contact List, supplemented by commercial applications, to flag customer files to suppress third-party rentals (if applicable) as well as their own solicitations, but still continue to send communications of an official nature until otherwise contacted by the family or estate directly. Also, once the family or estate has contacted a business to request "deceased" removal and/or an account-name change directly to a survivor, then all communication must stop promptly in the name of the deceased (in other words, make sure the marketing database is not out of sync with a finance database, if they are maintained in separate silos).