No Need to Give Out Your Home Address — Mask It Instead

Today I went to get new glasses, and the receptionist asked me to first fill out a form that requested personal information such as my home phone number, cell phone number, email address, and home address. I have a general phone number I give out to businesses, but I reserve my personal cell phone number for family, trusted contacts, and friends. Same with email addresses (I use an alternate email address for business & reserve my personal one for family & others). And only in rare instances do I give out my home address; instead, I give out our business POB address or my husband's law office address.

Protect Your Home Address

Your home is your castle — protect it by using an alternate address (image is licensed by Colleen Collins)

Your home is your castle — protect it by using an alternate address (image is licensed by Colleen Collins)

Your home is the center of your family life. Outside of a government agency or a trusted business, you don't need to give your private home address to someone just because they ask for it. You don't need to give it to stores or other businesses, either, especially if they have no reason for your home address (such as they are not delivering something to your home). But even if you need an item to be delivered, you can offer a masked address, meaning an address that isn't your real address but is associated to it. For example, let's say a masked address is1234 Maple Drive. Anything mailed to 1234 Maple Drive is actually delivered to your real home address. 

Purchasing A Street Address

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and some private mailbox companies let you use their street address, and your mailbox number is the suite number.

Post Offices

You can purchase a mailbox at a USPS for an annual fee. Inquire if it also uses the street addressing service — if yes, they will ask you to fill out a street addressing form.

Vintage USPS post office boxes — today boxes open with keys (image is in the public domain)

Vintage USPS post office boxes — today boxes open with keys (image is in the public domain)

Advantages of using this street-addressing option is that USPS post office boxes are typically less expensive than private mailbox services. Post offices also tend to be more permanent than private mail box services, which might move locations or go out of business, and post offices will also receive packages delivered by private carriers such as UPS and FedEx. Additionally, some post offices offer a “text to cell phone” message at no extra charge when a private-carrier shipment is received. However, not all post offices participate in the street-addressing program.

Disadvantages of using your post office box street-addressing service is that items must qualify for mail delivery (no shipments of alcohol, items over 70 pounds and other restrictions). 

Private Mailbox Services

Most private mailbox services offer a street address and secure, 24-hour access to delivered mail and packages. They often have additional fee-based services such as mail forwarding and alerts, usually by text or email, when a package has arrived.

Examples of private mailbox services:

The UPS Store - Personal Mailboxes



Virtual Mailbox Services

A virtual mailbox service sells you a street address. Incoming envelopes sent to this address are scanned into an electronic format, such as pdf, by the virtual mailbox service, which then sends the images to you via email or another electronic venue for your review. You then decide which envelopes are to be opened, and the service scans those contents and sends them.

With a virtual mailbox service, you can be anywhere in the world and still receive your mail. A big problem, however, would be if the service goes out of business suddenly, like overnight (which happened to one such service while I was researching this article). Also virtual mailbox services can get pricey — some cost $60 or more a month.

Examples of virtual mailbox services:


Earth Class Mail

Box 4 me

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins) requires specific, written authority. Please do not copy or distribute any images noted as licensed; any images noted as being in the public domain are yours to use.