Private mailboxes are secure and anonymous deposit slots that you can buy or rent from the business supplying them, known as Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRA). Individuals or businesses can purchase a private mailbox without associating it directly with themselves, achieving privacy for both the form and content of the correspondence they receive.
The only people legally allowed access to a private mailbox are those delivering the mail and those who are registered to have their mail delivered to that box. To rent a private mailbox, you must provide at least two forms of identification; one must include a photo of yourself. You must also keep your real name and address on file, along with photocopies of your ID. You can then grant legal authorization to particular people, such as a spouse or business partner, access to the private mailbox.
The United States Postal Office does not allow you to designate private mailboxes by notations such as Street, Apartment, Unit or any other title that might indicate the mailbox is located at a public office or home. You must label private mailbox numbers either by the # sign or preceded by the letters PMB. The USPS states that this is necessary to help prevent scams and mail fraud, which often originates from private mailboxes.
The use of a warrant, subpoena or legal writ from law enforcement agencies is required to compel a private mailbox supplier to release customer information. Otherwise the private mailbox owner's information, such as legal name, home address and contact information is kept secure.
- mail image by Marvin Gerste from Fotolia.com