Privacy, Security

Who Needs a PMB, CMRA, or PO Box? How to Hide Your Home Address

Aug. 23, 2022 / My Data Removal Staff
use a mail forwarding service to protect your personal information

You don’t have to be a celebrity, professional athlete, or police officer to want to keep people from easily finding your home address. Any person can be uncomfortable with how easy it is to find one’s home addresses online. People search websites and data brokers make money connecting your name and address. But, do you want anyone to be able to easily find your address? Keep reading to see how a PO Box, a Professional Mail Box (PMB) and a commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA) can help.

Definitions

PO boxes, PMBs, and CMRAs help you keep your real name and your physical address separate.

A  PMB is a box, located at a UPS store or somewhere similar, where you can receive mail in your name. A PMB will give you a street address (“PO” will not be in the address). A CMRA is a company that receives mail in your name. CMRAs can scan and forward your mail so you never need to visit their physical location. Post office (PO) boxes are boxes at a post office and will contain “PO” in the address.

Why would anyone want to use a PMB, PO Box, or CMRA?

 These options are great when you want to maintain your privacy.

You minimize what organizations have access to your real address and your real name when you use one of these services. To further protect yourself, we recommend you ship things to your home only in an alias name, so nobody would know it was you who really lived there. If you ship things directly to one of these other options, you don’t need to worry about all of these companies knowing where you live. They only know where your PMB is.

These options also allow you to maintain flexibility. If you move around a lot they can make sense. If you travel extensively or live overseas, a CMRA would probably make a lot of sense.

How to set up a PO box

To set up a PO box, you need to go to usps.com and click rent/renew PO Box under the “Quick Tools” menu.

You need search for a post office in the location you want and select a size of box you want. Size only matters if you are going to be checking it infrequently (you need a bigger PO box if you won’t check it often). If you get packages, they will put a key in your box, and you use the key to open a larger box that is there expressly for packages.

You then click reserve now, and you need to login to your USPS account or create an account. We recommend you do all of this in your real name. This isn’t a great match for using a digital alias.

You then sign up and pay. You need to go in and show some id and mail connected to your current residence so the post office knows it is you. They give you a couple keys and you are then good to use your PO box!

How to open an account with a CMRA

Create an account with a CMRA. You can usually do this online. There are lots of options:  nymail.com, physicaladdress.com, escapees.com, and many more.

You must fill out PS Form 1583 and sign it in front of a Notary Public. This form needs to be filled out by all customers of a CMRA. Submit it to the CMRA. Have them handle your mail going forward.

How to set up a PMB

Go into a UPS store (or other company that offers PMBs) with two forms of identification. Fill out their forms and sign the mailbox service agreement. You will also need to sign the PS 1583.

What kinds of things should still go to your real address?

You can still send things that aren’t in your name. An alias name works great for this. For example, if you open an Amazon account under an alias name, you can have all of your Amazon packages sent to your house.

You can also receive mail in a business name or entity name at your home address.

You probably cannot eliminate junk mail. You will still get mail address to “Current Resident”.

What still connects your address to you?

If you own your house, property records are usually public. You can find this on your county’s website. To fix this you would need to put your house into an LLC, living trust, or some other entity that would mask your ownership. You should probably work with a lawyer for this.

If you rent, your rental agency (unless you rent from an individual) knows your address and likely shares it with tenant rating services.

Some utility companies want to know who you really are. Others let you use alias information. It is worth trying to set things up with an alias.

Banks want to know where you actually live. Many of them do not like just having a PO box or CMRA address, even if that is your mailing address.

For most, if not all, states, your driver’s license should list where you actually live. Your voter registration is usually tied to your physical residence too.

Government schools (for your kids), usually want to know your physical address.

Your employer usually likes to know where you live, but recently PO boxes seem to be better accepted.

Lastly, all your current and online accounts that know your real name and your real address for shipping or billing know your real address. This probably includes Amazon and all their vendors that you have purchased from. You would have to stop using these accounts and create new ones if you wanted to completely disassociate your name and your home address.

A PO box, PMB, or CMRA can help you minimize what information is out there connecting you to your location.

It takes some effort, but it is possible to weaken the link between your address and your real name. Take a look at our alias strategy article for suggestions on creating an alias.

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