Use a PO Box to Thwart ID Thieves

A Post Office Box, or PO Box, can be a very useful tool in your fight against would be identity thieves. Use them to add a layer of anonymity and thieves are likely to look for softer targets.

Thieves can’t steal mail from your PO Box. If you live in an area where your mail is accessible without a key, then you live in an area where an identity thief could come by and steal your mail! The easiest way to combat this is to get paperless statements. The second easiest way is to rent a post office box and get your bills delivered there. Your mail is safely locked away and no thief is going to waste their time trying to break into PO boxes when they can waltz down any street and open up regular mail boxes!

If they get your mail, they don’t have your address. When a thief gets your mail and sees your name with a PO Box as an address, they’re going to be upset. Without your physical address, it becomes much harder for them to steal something from you. My PO Box address isn’t listed on any of my credit reports because they aren’t residences. So without knowing my physical address, it becomes much harder to pretend to be me.

Thwart junk solicitations. One unintended benefit of using a PO Box is that you will personally receive fewer junk mail letters and your PO Box will receive more. Most post offices have locked blue recycling bins so you can dump the junk mail immediately.

Even the Department of the Treasury recommends using a PO Box to “outsmart the crooks” in their identity theft learning guide [PDF, 650kb]

If you’re sold on the idea, find out how much a post office box costs near you. I rent their smallest size for a mere $5 a month and it’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’d rather spend $5 a month and go the do-it-yourself identify theft protection route than pay for a service.

Do you use a PO Box or some other type of “secured mailbox facility” like Mailboxes Etc.?

Jim writes daily about personal finance at Bargaineering.com.

(Photo: mundane_joy)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. pervy_the_clown says:

    This actually isn’t a bad idea. My Post Office is literally 2 blocks from me. Hm, I might have to look into this.

  2. SonaHapjo says:

    I use a PO Box (initally got it for eBay – don’t want 5000 people having my home address) – but when i changed my bills my box did end up on my credit report.

  3. ZukeZuke says:

    I started using a PO box 15 yrs ago for this very reason. However, once you buy property, your name and address become publicly available and you’ll see it show up on many of these people-finder databases.

    It seem pretty unreasonable to me that the County Recorder still makes this info so freely available in this age of identity theft… as you’ll start getting loan solicitations, credit card apps, etc. by the bucketloads a month or two after you buy your house!

    • nybiker says:

      @ZukeZuke: Here in NYC you can search the city’s real estate records online and find out who owns what. I recently did so because I couldn’t understand why the NY State Dept of Taxation & Finance was sending a collection notice to my address with a name that wasn’t mine nor the previous owner’s.

      It turned out that the state’s claim was against the owner before the owner I bought the place from and to top it off the state had mispelled the addressee’s name. The next time I get the state’s letter, I’ll just mark it RETURN TO SENDER – ADDRESSEE DECEASED (yeah, further investigation revealed that they died about a year or 2 after they sold the place to the people who sold it to me).

      • jeffbone says:

        @nybiker: Totally OT, but it sounds like you need to have a serious chat with your title company or title insurer. If they missed a city tax lien, who knows what else they missed?

        • jeffbone says:

          @jeffbone: Ugh. “State”, not “city”…PIMF…

          • Lucky225 says:

            @ZukeZuke:

            X2, I’m in Address Confidentiality Program here in Texas, yet the county here gives property records out to the public ONLINE FOR FREE. Thusly, I rent. :/

        • nybiker says:

          @jeffbone: One itsy-bitsy piece of info I neglected to put in my comment. The collection notice does reference the tax perioods of 1991 & 1992, so the state is going after the original debtors, it’s just that for some reason (maybe the misspelling in their database?) they don’t know that the folks died? If you use the http://www.pipl.com search engine with the correct spelling you get their names showing up in the Social Security list of dead people. But I do appreciate your suggestion and correction. Thank you.

  4. jamesdenver says:

    I’ve had a box at Mail Boxes Etc since 2000 and love it.

    I can travel without worrying about my mail piling up, and also when I moved from a couple apartments before buying a house I didn’t need to worry about forwarding/changing addresses with various companies.

    And it is nice to have a “buffer” between where I actually live where companies “think” I live or ship/mail stuff too.

    Even my Drivers Licence uses the MBE address, which is tricky at times but still worth it.

    • t0ph says:

      @jamesdenver: I am curious as to what problems you encountered with the license thing..

      • jamesdenver says:

        @t0ph:

        re: problems. The DMV and some government places won’t accept PO Boxes as official addresses. Mail Boxes Etc or UPS Store type places are an actual street address – but here in Colorado the DMV lists those places as non-residential addresses. So if you want your alternative address on government docs there could be a roadblock.

        Last time renewing my license the address was flagged, and I just acted dumb to the clerk and she processed it anyway.

        Other than that it’s worth every penny. – and when I have stuff shipped to my home too they can sign for it and I can simply pick it up whenever.

        Also for someone that does apartment up or travel a lot having a permanent address I THINK can help your credit report by adding more stability.

        • Lucky225 says:

          @jamesdenver:

          It’s not the DMV flagging it, it’s flagged on USPS’s CMRA database which is PUBLIC. That’s why I scouted out a PMB place that is *NOT* a registered CMRA, believe it or not there are a lot of shifty businesses that don’t register, and the Post Office could care less enforcing it. My PMB isn’t a registered CMRA, and I used it on my license no problems w/ the address. However, after getting pulled over 2 times RIGHT IN FRONT of my PMB address, the cops gave me an address warning, that’s when I finally enrolled in Address Confidentiality Program(which Colorado has too by the way if you happen to be a victim of stalking).

    • the_wiggle says:

      @jamesdenver: yeppers. they are wonderful. address passes muster as a “physical”, too!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I vote solidly for a UPS Store-type location (formerly Mail Boxes Etc.) They are a real street address, not a PO Box, so you can ship UPS/FedEx/DHL/etc/etc to that address, and can be reasonably assured that nobody is going to take your stuff from the store. Additionally, since the delivery drivers have a consistent relationship with the staff there, you’re less likely to get your boxes kicked around and damaged.
    Although the UPS Store lists your ‘address’ as a “PMB” or Personal Mail Box, you can call it “suite” or “apt” to get by companies that think it’s a PO Box and refuse to ship to you. Same should work with Driver’s Licenses, but that might be a legal thing, so check state laws first.

  6. edwardso says:

    I have the next best thing, a mail slot in my door. The only problem is that the dog attacks the door everytime she hears the slot open

    • nybiker says:

      @edwardso: It might be time to spend some time on Friday’s with the Dog Whisperer. It’s on NatGeo.

      • edwardso says:

        @nybiker: will that work on a partially deaf 9 year old? I might have to up the cable if it does. The only problem is that we are rarely home when the mail comes to correct the behavior

        • theysaidwhat says:

          @edwardso: You can train for this. How hard would it be for you to push paper through your own mail slot while you are home for training? I’ve heard some weak excuses before regarding dog training, but this is really weak!

          You could also invest in something like a baby gate to keep the dog away from the door.

          C’mon. You can outsmart the dog if you really think about it. ;)

        • nybiker says:

          @edwardso: I have no idea if it will work, but the guy doing the ‘whispering’ is said to have had success with various problems. I’ve only seen the show promoted when I watch other stuff on the channel. I don’t have any pets, so I can’t speak for any trainers.

    • HiPwr says:

      @edwardso: Just stay on good terms with your neighbors or you might end up with a garden hose through that slot next time you go on vacation.

    • Daisuke Matsuzaka says:

      @edwardso: That’s one thing I like about living where I live. We have the old-fashioned walking post men and women. Not only is it much more convenient to get your mail inside in the middle of winter, as opposed to sledging to the end of the driveway in snow, but it’s also helpful to prevent ID theft. Only catch is if you get a package delivered of any substance, they can usually not fit through the slot.

  7. icantreplyright says:

    My box is on my credit report. My Post Office Deerborn in Chicago has no locked blue bin (neither do any that I have seen in Cincinnati or Dayton). And they all get junk mail delivered to the previous box owner because they say “or current resident” on them.

    That said, I still use them.

    • econobiker says:

      @icantreplyright: Never have seen a recycling bin in Post Offices in TN. I have wondered about the cost of disposal of the paper stuff that gets chucked at the post office.

  8. AppleAlex says:

    I always thought a PO Box was like a ZIP code it was the same for every city and therefore just an extra way for a postman to find the correct city. ZIP code not working?, use the PO Box

    I don’t think our post office has them I have seen small boxes only accessible by key but I thought those were for the people living in apartments

    • rbcat says:

      @AppleAlex: Most PO boxes have a separate ZIP code, but I’m confused as to your explanation. That said, if your post office has a row of numbered boxes accessible by key, those are PO boxes and available to rent. Boxes for apartment dwellers will be on apartment property, not at the post office, unless we’re referring to a very rural area.

    • AT203 says:

      @AppleAlex: Wow, this whole developing thread is unintelligible.

      From personal experience, in the city of New Haven, CT the Post Office box numbers are unique throughout the city. Even though the city is broken up into seperate area codes. So, post office A will have boxes 100-200, and post office B will have boxes 201-300, etc. If you accidentally get the ZIP code wrong, they can still get it to your box. I do not know if other cities follow this format.

      • hedonia says:

        @AT203: I dunno, I think this guy was trolling/being sarcastic/complaining about the article: ‘who doesn’t know about PO Boxes?!’

        I think my interpretation is by far the more generous one ; )

  9. nybiker says:

    But then I have to go to the post office.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The P.O. boxes around here from USPS cost $30 for the cheapest, and $48 for the bigger size, and it only gets worse.

    Where I live, a lot of stuff is absolutely ridiculously priced. If you live in a city and go to a store, our prices are that +$2 at least.

    The Rayleys around here is one of the cheapest grocery stores, if that is any indication to those who know how “expensive” Rayleys are.

  11. trademarked67 says:

    plus you can use to hide stuff from your spouse…

  12. Copper says:

    I have been meaning to purchase a PO box because I move around too much as a student. Because of this article, I just reserved my box online. I must give a shout-out to the USPS for this feature. Very nice.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I used to have a PO Box but now have been using a mailbox at my local The UPS Store for the last couple months and love it so far….I can receive mail from USPS as well as packages from any carrier. Plus I can give them a call to check if I have mail instead of making a trip out there for nothing – very convenient. – mine is also accessible 24/7 because they issued me a front door key

    Also, none of our Post Offices in Green Bay, WI have those locked blue recycle bins and I also received junk mail for “current resident” and such.

  14. crunchberries says:

    The only drawback to having a P.O Box is that many companies won’t send stuff to you unless you have a home address with a physical mailbox.

    Amazon is particularly frustrating with that, especially with video games and small electronics.

    • microcars says:

      @crunchberries:
      UPS and FedEx will NOT deliver to a Post Office Box in a Post Office!
      So unless the sender is using USPS for packages, you will not get them.
      I have had people send me checks sent via UPS and they would not get delivered to my PO box either.

      Perhaps there is a way around this in rural areas, but in urban areas this is the norm.

      • mrscoach says:

        @microcars: I have had a PO box for 5 years now, simply because we live in a very rural area and cannot have mail delivered to our house, no delivery vehicles. I hate the run around we get when we order stuff. We have to search for delivery method sometimes (not always easily identifiable without searching HARD) before entering a delivery address. I usually just put both our PO box and our physical address.

        When the last Harry Potter book came out I preordered and used our physical address because it was coming UPS (I checkied). Lo and behold it wasn’t delivered and I called Amazon only to learn that it HAD been delivered, to our post office, who would handle the home delivery. “They’ll deliver it to your house shortly.” “I’d like to see that, as they have no delivery vehicles at our town, only a post office where we are required to rent boxes if we want mail.” She never did understand that our post office was physically incapable of delivering mail to our house. If I had wanted to receive the box on a Saturday at the post office (which had no Sat. window open for pacage pickup) I would have ordered it to come that way!

        I did get the books, but never understood why UPS handed off the package to USPS.????

        • Catpain Blackudder says:

          @mrscoach: It wasn’t just you. UPS doesn’t do Saturday deliveries (unless you pay out the nose for overnight, I think?) so we at the PO would get all the Harry Potter books a day or two earlier from Amazon/BN by way of UPS and be forbidden to scan/deliver/touch them until Saturday.

      • crunchberries says:

        @microcars: I’m not talking abuot UPS or Fedex. I’m talking about USPS itself. Sorry if I wasn’t clear on that.

      • Anonymous says:

        @microcars: Actually, UPS DOES deliver to USPS Post Office Boxes, but the shipper has to do it correctly: UPS has a two-part label, where the first part is the street address of the Post Office. The bottom part has the PO Box, with final delivery by USPS. The bottom part could also be a physical address when shipped this way.
        swansonvitamins.com, vitacost.com, iherb.com, Land’s End, and others, know how to do this. Because of this, I always get a kick out of web sites (and consumerist posters) that say “UPS does not deliver to PO Boxes.”

    • jamesdenver says:

      @crunchberries:

      That’s why you use Mail Boxes etc or UPS store. It is a real address with a unit number. No company knows the difference, – with exception to my government reply above…

      • crunchberries says:

        @jamesdenver: Mmm, that’s a good idea, albeit inconvenient. My nearest UPS store is about twenty miles out of the way and I’ve never heard of Mail Boxes etc.

        Still, if it can cut down on package idiocy, it might be worth the effort.

        • nybiker says:

          @crunchberries: The Mail Boxes Etc company is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPS. They were bought by UPS something like 5 years ago.

          So, UPS Store = Mail Boxes Etc.

  15. u1itn0w2day says:

    PO Boxes are cool as long as they’re accessable . I had one go to bankers hours access . They said they got tired of cleaning up after and chasing the homeless guys . After a year or so of complaints they went back to 24 hour access .

    Other than that the only people bothered by a PO Box are credit card companies , they’ll mail to your PO Box but they must have an address of record for some mailings and business . Many shippers have access to your credit information including physical address which is the only address they’ll mail to .

    I heard alot of potential employers don’t like it when you use a PO Box , I’ve even heard stories of many an employer discriminating against those with apartments which a load of crap .

    You can even get packages at a PO Box you just have to go there during window hours . That’s really the only catch . Make sure the PO Box you choose is really handy or like on the way home . Went through periods where I only stopped by a couple of days a week and I actually liked in that not having to deal with all that paper every day – it’s like not having the phone ring for a couple of days .

    And remember it’s another bill to pay .

  16. Anonymous says:

    Instead of using a PO Box for physical delivery of bills, credit card statements, etc., why not sign up for paperless statements and use billpay? That way, you don’t have to worry as much about your information be physically stolen from paper statements. Also, you can opt-out of unwanted credit card offers, catalogs, and magazine offers by going to optoutprescreen.com and dmachoice.org.

  17. weave says:

    Another benefit of a PO BOX (in a different zip code) is that if you wallet is lost and the credit cards are lifted, it’ll thwart those credit card terminals where they ask you to enter your billing zipcode as if it’s some sort of pin code. If they have your other info, figuring out your billing zip is easy from your license– unless your bills go to a PO BOX in a different zip code — like mine do! :)

    • Lucky225 says:

      @weave:

      Or you can just give them a fake billing address in a totally different state and select ‘online billing only’ to ‘save the trees’ and what not.

  18. tdatl says:

    I’ve used one for 15 yrs, and this is part of the reason. Your physical addresses likely will show up on Experian, though. They get them from everywhere nowadays. Before I owned, I lived in a number of apartments that no creditor ever had (they only had the POBs), but Experian still has them listed as previous addresses. Only way they could’ve gotten them is from regional and/or municipal utilities and auto insurance companies that otherwise never appeared on any credit reports.

    It’s my understanding Experian sells address information to debt collectors, so they get everything they can find & they never delete. I have every physical address I’ve had since I was 18 (now 41) listed on my Experian reports.

    • Sys Admn says:

      @tdatl: Boy, that would have been handy when I was filling out paperwork for a government security clearance. I had to list all residences for the last 10 years. Thank heavens I was 7 years out of college, and ‘only’ had to list 5 addresses for those three years.

    • calchip says:

      @tdatl:

      Years ago, Experian signed a consent degree in order to avoid legal action by something like 20 state attorneys general. They knowingly and intentionally re-reported information that had previously been erroneously reported and removed.

      I remember working for a company that was signing up for credit report retrieval service, and one of the Experian rep’s sales pitches was to go with them, because they had “more derogatory information than any of our competitors, because we often keep it on file after it’s been deleted”

      Sleazy pieces of crap. Trans Union and Equifax are much better operations.

      • hedonia says:

        @calchip:
        >>>”Sleazy pieces of crap. Trans Union and Equifax are much better operations.”<<<

        Too bad we can’t pick a credit reporting bureau to use. As it stands, we’re definitely not their customer and that is so fundamentally unfair – I can’t really think of any other system that operates this way in the US.

        All it takes is one mistake on one report and it can just get passed around for years. They should have to pay out a fine to the complainant if a deleted item ever makes its way back mysteriously.

  19. humphrmi says:

    Once you give your creditors your PO Box address, they can report it to the credit reporting agencies, and it will show up on your credit report.

  20. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Note that mail boxes provide an extra layer of privacy but are not totally anonymous.

    CMRA’s (Commercial mail-receiving agencies) like Mailboxes Etc. must provide a list of renters to the post office. Also, the post office must provide the contact info of post office box renters if asked. You can go up to the counter and find out who rents Box 12345. In practice this may be difficult as it’s not often done and employees don’t know the law – but they are required to give you the info.

    Linky: [www.cato.org]
    [www.i2i.org]

    • Lucky225 says:

      @IfThenElvis:

      Exactly my point! See my post about General Delivery below, much better in regards to privacy because you don’t *APPLY* for GENERAL DELIVERY, you just start USING it. So the Post Office does *NOT* have your physical address if a requester asks for it when using General Delivery, and on top of it, it’s FREE!

  21. Lucky225 says:

    God I wish have saw this earlier:

    F*CK A P.O. BOX — USE “GENERAL DELIVERY”. It is a FREE service where the post office holds your mail at the post office for up to 30 days (from when they receive the mail). Essentially the same thing as a PO BOX except it’s FREE, and you get a cool looking address. To use General Delivery, call your post office and make sure they offer it (if you have several post offices in your city, the MAIN P.O. is usually the one offering General Delivery). Mail would be sent to you as:

    YOUR NAME
    GENERAL DELIVERY
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210-9999(it’s always zip+9999)

    You will *NEVER* get junk mail again, EVER.

    • humphrmi says:

      @Lucky225: Try to get a credit card at a “General Delivery” address. Or mortgage. Or job.

      • Lucky225 says:

        @humphrmi:

        I’ve done all except the mortgage bit, but I’ve never tried to buy a house. I still have old bills and paystubs somewhere if you’d like proof.

        • Lucky225 says:

          @Lucky225:

          [www.wired.com]

          Here’s an article from the days I was using General Delivery and why I was doing it. I had got a job with a General Delivery address, they found out where I worked, but couldn’t get my address out of my employer, so they ended up harassing my parents after getting me fired because they still had no clue where I was living.

  22. feckingmorons says:

    The best thing about a PO Box is that shippers cannot use UPS to send you packages so the chance of actually getting what you order at all, on time or undamaged are much greater.

  23. Ashcan says:

    Problem I’m running into recently is that since my main delivery address for my credit cards is a PO Box, vendors are having issues about shipping products to me at my home address. For years we’ve been told to set our credit card addresses to a PO Box for security. But now the “M.O.” of a ID thief is to ship stuff to a different address than the credit cards billing address. It’s getting so I can’t even order from some vendors because they refuse to ship via anything other than UPS or FedEx, and will not ship to any address except the one that the credit card bill is sent to.

    • tdatl says:

      @Ashcan: call your CC issuers & list either your home or work as a valid shipping address. I know it works with AMEX, Chase, Capital One, & Discover, at least.

      I have my work address listed with all the CC issuers as a valid shipping address, so the CC address verification works. I simply specify different billing & shipping addresses on the order. I know you said it’s recent, but just in the past few months I’ve ordered from Amazon.com, backcountry.com, NewEgg.com, crucial.com, teva.com, walmart.com, and XtremePowerSports.com with no problems.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @tdatl:

        Amazon will send stuff to my work address no problem.

        I prefer that because sometimes they use UPS now but you can’t tell when. If no one is there they sometimes won’t leave a package.

  24. Karen Wheless says:

    If you want to rent a PO box, try to find one in a post office that has 24 hour access. If you go to the USPS web site and search for “automated postal centers”, you’ll find the local post offices that have all hours access (and have automated postage machines for sending mail, as well as a package drop). These post offices usually also have larger “package boxes” where you can get packages after hours (they just leave the key in your box).

    This varies depending on where you live, but here in PA, a lot of post offices are only open during certain hours, which can be a hassle when you want to get your mail. Even if the hours seem OK when you rent your box, the hours can be cut back any time – at one point, my local post office cut back their hours so they closed at 4:30 pm during the week, which made it nearly impossible to get my mail. Usually a 24-hour post office won’t suddenly change their access. I’d rather drive a little further and be able to get my mail any time.

  25. AT203 says:

    I have a PO Box in a city. Because of the expense of real estate, my PO Box is in a USPS FRANCHISE location. It is a private business, but offers USPS products and services. It is like a hybrid between Mailboxes Etc. and an actual post office. I have a street address with a suite/box number (instead of a PO Box number), and they accept packages from UPS and Fedex. It is really a great deal.

    Also, the original story mentioned a rate of $5 (per month?). Note, price varies with location. As I said, I live in the city, and because of high demand, the prices are more expensive.

  26. Felix the Cat says:

    “My PO Box address isn’t listed on any of my credit reports”

    That is YOU. Mine all come up with my POB number, old ones even show up under the prior address line.

    http://www.targetfiling.blogspot.com

  27. oreggie says:

    I had an official USPS PO box, and it felt like about half of the mail in it was misdelivered. It belonged either to the previous owner of the box (wrong name, right box number), or to someone who had an adjacent mailbox (wrong name AND box number). The error rate was so high that I could not trust all of my mail was being delivered there.

    • Lucky225 says:

      @oreggie:

      Yet another reason to use general delivery instead of a p.o. box. In Killeen I had the same issue w/ dyslexic box stuffers putting my mail in another box and vice versa. With General Delivery they hold the mail in a bin and look you up by name.

  28. mohave_green says:

    I have a post office box and it didn’t protect me from identity theft. My cell phone application, with all personal information, was stolen from the store where I applied. While it’s true that the PO box protects my mail from theft (as long as no one within the post office is a thief), I think it actually made it easier for the scumbag that stole my identity to open accounts in my name because he was able to use his own physical address with my PO box. In fact, the banks added HIS address as the most current to MY credit report when he opened the fraudulent accounts, essentially blocking my ability to access my own credit report! However, that also proved his downfall… and he’s now doing 10 years in prison for messing with me. To protect myself now, I’ve locked my credit at the three agencies and don’t anticipate ever unlocking it.

  29. MikeVx says:

    I have had private mail boxes for many years now. The first at a small outfit that went out of business, then at a Mail Boxes Etc, which changed when UPS bought out the chain, and is now a UPS store.

    I had to fill out paperwork on this, the CMRA is only required to hand out your data to non-postal types when you are using the box for business purposes.

    The major benefit is that the CMRA does not care how an item is delivered, as long as my name and/or box number is on it. USPS, UPS, FedEx, private truck, carrier turtle, it doesn’t matter. They also don’t care about the size as long as it fits through the door. I once had a large TV delivered without a complaint.

    All my important mail goes there except state documents, I can’t persuade the secretary of state that there is a reason their computers have the option of a mailing address.

    This solves the problem of deliveries because the credit card address is the delivery address. It costs more than a real PO box, but the convenience of 24-hour access to a locked lobby (I get a front door key as well as a box key) and the freedom of not caring how delivery is handled is wonderful. My mail is in a facility that can be locked and is monitored by paid mail monitors during business hours. They’ve just added a feature that anything too big to fit in my box triggers a note to my cell phone advising me of the fact.

    An additional security feature that was actually intended to be a punishment of CMRAs by the post office is that forwarding orders cannot be filed for a CMRA address. Anyone attempting to divert your mail with a forwarding order will roundly fail to do so. I am sensitive to this because I once received a letter from a credit card company confirming my change of address from Michigan to New Haven, Connecticut, and by the way if I did not change the address call us at this number RIGHT NOW. I hadn’t and I did and a new card was on the way within hours. A forward trick might have been attempted, but if it was it couldn’t have worked.

    On the whole I find that the extra expense of a CMRA is worth the valure received over a PO box.

  30. edrebber says:

    Most theft is internal. More than likely it’s the USPS employee stealing from the customer. Post office box probably won’t help.

  31. robdew2 says:

    “Thieves can’t steal mail from your PO Box.” Unless of course, they work for the USPS.

    “If they get your mail, they don’t have your address.” Unless they own a phone book, lookup your real estate details at the county treasurer, or follow you home.

    “Thwart junk solicitations”, by ending up having your mail held behind the counter since it won’t fit in your PO box. So actually, once your PO box is full of junk mail, you mail have your real mail made inacessible by being held at the office counter.

    Anyone who’s had a PO box will tell you they are more trouble than they are worth.

    The first time you need an important package that would have fit in your home mailbox and you can’t get it after you come home from work because it didn’t fit in your PO box, you will regret it.

    And remember, it’s the USPS employee that’s deciding what fits and what doesn’t fit in your PO box, not you.

    • Lucky225 says:

      @robdew2:

      Agreed with most of your Statements, hence why I think General Delivery is a better method for thwarting junkmail and getting packages somewhere other then your house if it’s going to be done via USPS. Sure, USPS can still steal your mail at General Delivery, but they can steal mail going to your house too. On the other hand, local businesses can pay the post office to stuff EVERY SINGLE PO BOX, with their crap via presort standard mail using ‘CURRENT RESIDENT’ as the name, this simply won’t work with GENERAL DELIVERY, since it is a SHARED address with others in your city, so instead only mail with your name on it will reach General Delivery, thus no junk mail.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The main part of this is keyed. I have box at a ups store that I use for my business. I ordered $5,000 worth of cell phones to resell on ebay. I walkedin just told the girl my box number, she went behind the mail boxes, came back out sat the box on the counter, handed me a recipt to sign my name. I asked her “how she knew that it was me, as she had never seen me before” She stated “she didn’t” So much for secure package pickup.

  33. EyeintheLAsky says:

    i’ve used a PO box for 30 years. Mostly for this reason, but for others, too.
    One thing: unlike a ‘ma & pa’ or ‘mailbox etc’-like box rental company, using an actual US Post Office box, your I.D. and physical address can only be released via a court-order (though, that may have changed with the ‘patriot act’). With the others, any swinging dick with a badge (fake or otherwise), can demand your information.

    I also have a PO box listed on my drivers license. Police don’t like it either, but i tell them to write to their congressman and piss-off, cuz it’s completely legal according to my states DMV…which is at a higher level than a local flatfoot.

    • econobiker says:

      @EyeintheLAsky: Good for you on the availablity of using the PO box for license address. Unforetunately many states do not allow this so some creative ideas must be used to generate a physical address.

      Prior to moving to my current area the last license address I had was for the post office’s actual street number address with my PO box as the unit/apt. number.

  34. Nighthawke says:

    Having a PO box costs extra money and that varies between locations and vendors. The USPS boxes in Port Aransas run 20-40 bucks yearly, while the nearby Rockport PO starts at 120USD. I get my mail in a cluster delivery box that is keyed. One itch of the CB is that the slot is too small for my Netflix DVD’s, so I have to go drop it in a regular blue box 5 minutes away.

    The difference between a private GD box and a USPS box is the law. If someone breaks into a provate GD box, you are largely on your own with state laws to deal with. If someone so much as marks up a box in a USPS, then they might wind up in a federal pen for a few years and pay stiff penalties.

    Also, you are at the whims of the private box manager if they want to change hours or simply close their doors for one reason or another. With the USPS, they are under obligation to keep access to their PO boxes open 24/7. In fact, the locks at one office are rusted solid from disuse. I’ve gone to get my mail at 3AM (nevermind why) without issue.

    • Lucky225 says:

      @Nighthawke:

      There is NO obligation whatsoever for the USPS to provide 24/7 access. I have had several po boxes that were not 24/7 access and in the same common area where usps is only open during business hours and thus not accessible after business hours. While many larger post offices offer this conveniences, they are not obligated to in any way.

  35. tz says:

    I’ve had a “private mail box” (PMB) for over 15 years. I use it for everything, but it is a full service place – better than UPS store – where I can get live answer and/or voice mail too, the mail is reliable (I had W2s be marked “return to sender, address does not exist” when sent to my home address), and they can hold and forward on demand. I have it some distance away (actually over the state line) so it makes it more ambiguous if someone is trying to find my home address.

    I’m often doing multi-month out-of-town things, and one of the first things I get is areal PO Box – the rent is cheap and I can then use it as a destination when using premium forwarding or the PMB. (Often I don’t know where I’m going to be staying long-term until I’ve been there a few days).

    (The second thing I get is a remote credit union account so I won’t have trouble with small checks).

  36. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    I’ve had a PO box for over 10 years, mainly to avoid the hassle of changing my address every time I move to a new apartment. Additionally, as a woman living alone, if I ever lose my keys, nothing leads back to where I live. Doesn’t solve the rekeying problem, but I don’t need to worry in the short term that someone is going to break in and clean me out.

  37. forgottenpassword says:

    ABout po boxes…. expect a monumental amount of junk mail. ANd your box will be LITERALLY jammed packed with it if you dont clean it out at least every couple of days.

    I have gone that route. More trouble than its worth IMO.

    I just drop off any mail I need to send out at a public mail box on my way to or from work. Seems to work the best. I really dont recieve sensitive mail in my conventional mailbox.

  38. theblackdog says:

    I use a UPS Store box and I got it originally because my first apartment was in a bad neighbrohood where package theft was common since the apartment buildings were unsecured. Now I keep it because I am in a safer neighborhood, but you can see the door of my apartment from the street and would know if I had a package waiting for me.