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Dead men can't shop

I was plagued with advertisements addressed to my late husband until I finally wrote a letter saying to please stop sending them. My deceased husband never lived where I live, and I have remarried. He died in 1993. How do businesses connect him years later to an address where he never lived?

— Carol R., Rogue Valley

Well, Carol, our first call was to the post office, where a postal representative said the problem could have started with a simple mail forwarding request filed by you.

"When she moved from where she had lived, if she selected 'family,' everybody's mail would be forwarded," the representative said, whether the individuals lived with her or were deceased.

Mail is forwarded for 12 months after a party moves. For six months afterward, mail is returned to senders with the new forwarding address provided on a label. That's when you and your late husband could have been put on a mailing list that is still around today.

We also called the Direct Marketing Association, which helps businesses manage mail lists and compiles a ''Deceased Do Not Contact List" made available to companies.

There are many ways your late husband could have made it onto current lists. Mail lists are created from data gleaned from purchases and activities, public records, phone directories, club memberships — and even from other lists, so an incorrect listing can spread like a virus.

To learn more about how DMA can help you avoid getting mail for your deceased husband, see www.dmachoice.org and select "Get Started" to register your late husband's name on the ''Deceased Do Not Contact List." You can also call 212-768-7277.

Consumers can contact companies directly by phone or mail to have a name removed from a mailing list. When doing so, keep the mail in question to retain tracking numbers from the items to help companies locate their origins. Companies can take a very long time to honor such requests, so don't expect fast results.