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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I'm trying to sign up for mailchimp, and now I'm at the point where it needs a physical address. I understand that I can use a virtual mailbox, but is that actually compliant with the can-spam laws? I'm sort of stuck until I do this!
Thanks!
 
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A virtual mail box is legitimate if you are actually using it as your business address and NOT just to circumvent the law.

This is the thing:

Nobody is going to check to see if the address is real. However, if someone reports you for spamming and the government DOES decide to follow up, you better be able to show that you were using that address as a legitimate address and NOT just a place to dump your mailing list.

So if you are going to use a virtual mail box, you should use it as your formal business address. Put it on your website as your address for all general question or queries. USE the address for things other than just a dump address for your mailing list, and you'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
In this case a virtual mailbox seems to be more trouble than just going and renting one. I didn't want to because its a half hour drive from me. Oh well.
 

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To receive mail at a virtual po box you simply need to file a form with the USPS allowing them to receive mail for you. I think you need to forward it to your provider as well. The key is that if someone is disgruntled and wants to write you a postal letter telling you to stop spamming them (or sue you for doing so) then you need to be reachable at that address.
 

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Sarah Aubrey said:
The key is that you need to be reachable at that address.
That's it in a nutshell. And "reachable" does not mean that you have to live there or be instantly accessible to someone. As long as you retrieve your mail within a reasonable time, you'll be fine with everyone.

This question keeps coming up and a lot of bogus information has been given out as absolute gospel. Has anyone bothered to actually ask their post office about this? Well, I just did:

There is no USPS requirement to pick up your mail at any specified interval, though at least once a month is recommended if you receive an average amount of mail. If you use this as your "author's address" and you get almost no mail, you don't even need to check it that often.

You can tell your post office that you will only be in once a month or whenever so they will know ahead of time and not overstuff you box and not wonder if you died. That's not humor; they have special procedures that they have to do if you die, so, as long as they have reason to believe that you're still alive, all is good.

You are allowed to call the post office and have them check to see if you have any mail for pick up. Whether or not your particular post office will do that for you will depend on how good their customer service is. They are not required to do it, but mine will, for example.

You also have to make sure that the box rental fee is paid up. If your fee is not paid by the end of the month in which it is due, you have 10 days (or so) of grace period to get them the money. After that, your mail gets sent back.

The box rental fee depends upon the size of box that you rent and the zip code of your post office. As with almost anything else, when you buy in an upscale market, it costs more. The lowest fee for the smallest box in the most downscale market is $32.00 per year. I pay $68.00 per year for the smallest box in my post office. It also happens to be my actual place where I get mail, too. But it doesn't have to be...

You can be a resident of anywhere in the world and get a post office box in the United States, as long as the identification that you use to rent the box proves that you are the person that you say you are. They like your I.D to also have the physical address where you live, but that's not set in stone. There are people, for example, who live and travel around in an R.V. and have no permanent address. It's perfectly legal for them to have a P.O box somewhere, where they show up periodically to get their mail.

Finally, your P.O. box does not have to be the only place where you receive mail. You can have more than one P.O. box, as I do. You can also receive mail at a physical address as well as at a P.O. box. You can decide which address to use for which of your contacts. You are not "circumventing" any law by doing so, as long as you actually check periodically to see of you have any mail there.

I hope that all of this helps. And don't rely on rumors about what's "legal" and what isn't. The feds are not going to be tracking you down and pounding on your door because you use a special P.O. box to insulate yourself and your family from someone who might be a potential mental case. Especially nowadays, the Feds will probably have suggestions to help you do a better job of it.
 
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Peter Spenser said:
The feds are not going to be tracking you down and pounding on your door because you use a special P.O. box to insulate yourself and your family from someone who might be a potential mental case. Especially nowadays, the Feds will probably have suggestions to help you do a better job of it.
I don't disagree with the bulk of your post. Some folks want to make it more complicated than it has to be. My primary concern, as I said initially, is that the issue is not that the Feds are actively tracking you down. The issue is what happens the day you get reported as a spammer and THEN someone decides to investigate and you end up with an audit. I've been through multiple government audits (FAA, DOT, FDA, and OSHA) in the course of my day job. The primary thing they look for during an audit is if you are making a sincerely effort to follow the law, or are you trying to make an end run around the law. If you set up a virtual mailbox and use it for nothing but making Mailchimp happy to comply with Can-Spam, and you use it for nothing else related to your business, the day you get audited that is going to send up a read flag. But this is why I said if you use a virtual mailbox, include the address on your website as "General Correspondence." You can, as you pointed out, use your home address for the important stuff like you 1099s or checks or whatnot. But the point is to make sure it is clear you are using the virtual mail box as a legitimate part of your business and not just a "I don't want people to know my address."
 

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I've been reading through these threads with interest as I also need a mailing address for my newsletter and website.  My takeaway is that it's fraud if one's intent is to defraud.  If one were to put down any ol' mailing address (like my childhood home address that now belongs to someone unrelated to me), where I'll never actually receive mail, it's fraud.  If I put down an address where I actually receive the mail sent to me, it's not fraud.  Doesn't have to be where I live.

I appreciate the suggestion that was made in another thread for viabox.com

Betsy
 

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As above, one of the keys with viabox is you must submit a form with the USPS saying that you authorize viabox to accept postal mail for you. Otherwise, they will only accept packages
 

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Sarah Aubrey said:
As above, one of the keys with viabox is you must submit a form with the USPS saying that you authorize viabox to accept postal mail for you. Otherwise, they will only accept packages
Yes, good point--for any mail at all from the USPS you have to provide the USPS 1583 including packages. Packages/deliveries from other carriers (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc) do not need the USPS form.

Edit: FAQ from Viabox. Note requirement to have the form signed in presence of notary public or similar
https://www.viabox.com/faq

Will not put the address on anything until I get the form submitted and received.

Betsy
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
...However, if someone reports you for spamming and the government DOES decide to follow up...
LOL As if the government is actually going to follow up on a complaint of spamming. Sorry, I'm not laughing at you, but the idea that the current administration would begin to chase down spammers. Most of them are in Russia and China anyway. ;D
 

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Peter Spenser said:
You can be a resident of anywhere in the world and get a post office box in the United States, as long as the identification that you use to rent the box proves that you are the person that you say you are.
This is not true. You can purchase your mailbox online BUT you have to go to the Post Office and show them TWO forms of ID and give them the form you fill out online. Then they will tell you your PO box #.
(Go to USPS and look at the rules yourself)

I just did this recently and that's what I had to do.

So unless you can show up in person (otherwise it would be fraud), you can't live in another country and get a US PO box.
 

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Krista D. Ball said:
I cheated and asked my part-time job if I could use their address. The receptionist said yes ;)
Not cheating....you will actually get the mail there. It's your business address through an arrangement with the primary business.

:D

Betsy
 

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Betsy the Quilter said:
Not cheating....you will actually get the mail there. It's your business address through an arrangement with the primary business.

:D

Betsy
I wonder if that's why I keep working there. They're my business address ;)
 
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Krista D. Ball said:
I cheated and asked my part-time job if I could use their address. The receptionist said yes ;)
I love you, but this isn't going to fly if there is an audit. Unless you have something in writing from the owner of the company, the day the government sends a audit notice for spamming you'll get thrown under the bus. In the U.S., this sort of stuff is covered under Sarbanes-Oxley if it is a publicly traded company, which I am unfortunately well versed in because I work for a Fortune 500 company and this stuff is drilled into my brain. And even if it isn't publicly traded, there are a host of legal ramifications to using another company's address as your own. The receptionist has created a legal and financial liability for your employer in the event a Can-Spam violation is filed. The receptionist is not an officer of the company and can't bind the company to these sort of agreements. She may not even understand what she agreed to. There is a difference between a ship to address (i.e. when I buy something from Amazon, they have my home address and info but ask them to ship it to an alternate address) and a business address (If I gave Amazon my employer's address instead of my home address when I set up my KDP account). She may have thought you were just asking if it was OK to have stuff shipped to the office.

Bad Krista. No Cullen for you!
 

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dianapersaud said:
This is not true.
It IS true. Everything that I said is true.

Point by point:

dianapersaud said:
You can purchase your mailbox online BUT you have to go to the Post Office and show them TWO forms of ID and give them the form you fill out online.
Untrue. The Post Office has to see the application (which you can also get at the Post Office itself) and two forms of I.D. (one of which has a photo) for the person renting the box, but the person does not have to be there in person. There are people who are incapacitated in some way and can't get to the Post Office. It is still legal and possible for them to rent a P.O. box. It's up to the individual Post Office as to how strict they are about the I.D. process.

dianapersaud said:
Then they will tell you your PO box #.
Untrue. You can request any unused P.O. box that you want. If it is available, you can generally get it. This will vary depending upon the customer market at the particular Post Office. If you request one of the huge boxes that are used by businesses and institutions, they are allowed to refuse you because they know that it will be requested by someone with a more pressing need for that big box than little old you. The opposite is also true: If your mail is constantly overstuffing your P.O. box, the Post Office can require you to switch to a bigger one and charge you the higher fee. Again, it's up to the individual Post Office and their customer service practices.

dianapersaud said:
Go to USPS and look at the rules yourself
As I said, I went to my actual Post Office myself, in person, and spoke with a live person in charge, asked them all about this and they gave me pretty complete answers.

dianapersaud said:
I just did this recently and that's what I had to do.
Each individual Post Office has some leeway in how strictly they interpret and enforce the regulations. (I wish people would stop posting stuff here and think that their individual experience absolutely has to apply to everyone, everywhere, all the time.)

dianapersaud said:
So unless you can show up in person (otherwise it would be fraud)
As I said above, you don't necessarily have to show up in person. And stop throwing out scary legal terms words like "fraud" when it's obvious that you don't know the true legal meaning of the word. Protecting your privacy is not fraud. In fact, the Postal Service has an entire ad campaign promoting the idea of getting a P.O. box so you can keep your private information private. As long as you actually intend for that P.O box to be available to receive mail, and you make sure that it is checked regularly to see if there is some, you should feel free to proceed with a clear conscience.

dianapersaud said:
…you can't live in another country and get a US PO box.
Absolutely untrue. Whether or not the particular Post Office insists upon you applying in person, after you have the box you can be a resident anywhere in the world. In fact, there is a part of the form where you can designate someone to act in your behalf so they can check on and pick up your mail. (This goes along with the "incapacitated person" situation that I mentioned above.)

Now, if y'all will excuse me, I have writing to do. Anyone who has a serious need for more information can Personal Message me.
 
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