LPT: If you're starting out in a new city and don't know what your long term living situation is, get a post office box

LPT: If you're starting out in a new city and don't know what your long term living situation is, get a post office box

I did this when I relocated to a new city in a new state, and it's turned out to be very useful. Some benefits include:

-If you have to rent a different place for whatever reason (has happened to me 3 times now due to job change and an iffy landlord situation), you don't have to worry about changing your billing address, or contact other institutions which have your address on file. You're less likely to lose important mail between moves.

-If you're living with roommates, you don't have to worry about them snooping through your mail

-Having a secure place to receive your mail may reduce your chances of being a victim of identity theft. You can go out of town for several days and your mail is still safely locked at the post office.

-It might give you some comfort knowing that your physical address isn't on file with a bunch of organizations or businesses (there are some limitations to this where you HAVE to give someone your physical address, not a mailing address)

-Psycho relatives who want to send Christmas cards don't have to know where you actually live. Hooray!

If you're deciding which post office to get a box in, but aren't sure exactly what part of the metro area you'll be in long-term, aim for a more centralized location near mass transit.

Getting a PO box might cost you $50 a year, but it's very worth it IMO.

Edited to add: I had no idea I'd get such a big response to this LPT! A couple thoughts based on the comments here:

As several folks have pointed out, it's probably a better idea to get a UPS box, especially if you buy a lot of stuff online. I don't, and I feel like my PO box has suited me well.

If you do decide to get a PO box, it'll be the most worth it if the following conditions exist:

You get a relatively low volume of mail (meaning you don't have to check your box often)

You end up moving frequently within the same metro area

The cost to rent the PO Box is reasonable (some cities may be as low as $50, others will be as high as $150)

Also as someone pointed out, check the USPS website for lobby hours when you're deciding where to get your PO box.

Good tip, but $50/yr? Wow the cheapest here is $10/month.

Nonetheless, still worth it for the privacy and convenience.

I like the part where certain weirdos don't know the physical address. Good tip.

I think the price is worth it considering how much things cost, I pay for a VPN yearly just for some privacy, it might not matter but it makes me feel better so worth it.

Also good if you have shady neighbors and buy stuff from amazon. Much harder for them to steal your packages when they are not shipped to your door step. -

Remember when we were being told privacy was gonna become something you had to pay for?

A good internet security package (which you already need even with a VPN) plus some free plug-ins for your browser will deliver the exact same results in regards to third party tracking as a VPN.

I'd appreciate if you could elaborate on this. As an IT professional for over 20 years, it comes as news to me that any "security package" can mask your IP address. Likewise a free browser plugin won't help either, unless it's something like tunnelbear or hola unblocker, but in that case, the plugin is using a VPN. And in case you're getting a VPN service for free, your data is definitely being sold and/or your connection is being used as an exit-node for other VPN peers.

Norton Internet Security will pop up and scare you saying it prevented 10,000 malicious cookies from infecting your browser, and that without it, your data would be in the hands of chinese hackers. But it doesn't do anything at all to mask your IP address or actually make you any more anonymous or secure.

Adblock and ghostery can help prevent you from being tracked via 3rd party scripts and cookies, but you can still be very easily identified by your IP and/or your browser fingerprint.

Only a proxy like a VPN or Tor can mask your IP. If you don't trust the companies offering the VPNs, you can roll your own. Get a dedicated host somewhere and set up OpenVPN or just use a SSH tunnel. Otherwise if you want you could do the old multiple-condom trick and use more than one. In any case, some semblance of anonymity is better than none, which is what you get from "Internet Security Packages" and browser plugins.

And now we've graduated to "privacy is something only criminals want". What a wonderful world /s

These types of comments bug me. You go lengths to describe how VPN providers can lie and log your data anyway, but then you simply say "a good internet security package plus some free plug-ins..." as a solution?

If you're going to point out a problem, give evidence. And if you're going to provide a solution, give examples. Otherwise you're just telling people "oh, don't do that, do... something else".

This is a good point! My roommate just had a package stolen a couple weeks ago. Paying for a PO box may be a great deal in comparison to the hassle of dealing with one stolen package.

However, you do have to be careful as some businesses simply won't ship USPS, so delivering to a PO box may be problematic.

Why do you need it unless you have something to hide? /s

Edit: /s cause reddit is literal

LPT you can get the postal service to forward all your mail for free when you change addresses:

https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm

Where I live, the UPS Store rents post office boxes that are not called PO boxes; they are numbered as "123 Main Street, #260" and they'll accept packages from anywhere.

Not sure how expensive this is anymore compared to a USPS PO box.

While not strictly related, If you live in Canada and order packages. Sign up for flexilivraison. ~Two years ago the Canadian post office started offering this service which amounts to a free postal box at the postal counter of your choice for recieving packages. This service made them relevant to me again.

No more package left on doorstep in plain view to be stolen, or running across town to a fedex depot, or having to take time off to be there to accept your shipment. You get a confirmation email when something arrives, and you can just drop by after work to pick it up. The one I go to is open till 9 pm.

Some of you guys must live in some pricey areas! I just searched a San Francisco zip code on the USPS website, and the most expensive annual fee for a size 1 box is $134.

TIL the PO in PO box stands for Post Office.

Holy shit, it's $20/month here, $162/yr. I wish it was $50/yr lol.

This week the USPS released the free service Informed Delivery to most of the US. So now you can get a picture of each envelope being delivered that day. That would take the biggest hassle of having a PO box - making the trip to check an empty box.

That certainly makes a PO box sound more appealing.

You can also get PO boxes that look like actual street addreases.

This guy knows what's up.

Pmb, technically - private mailbox. Those places tend to be a bit more expensive but there are some benefits. Particularly if you want to receive packages via unknown carriers (hello, Amazon!) those places are generally good. Some offer discounts on shipping if you're a boxholder, too. Most also provide notary services.

Source: worked in a shop like that for a couple years. Loved the task but the pay, hours, and treatment were all consistent with small retail US business so I got out.

Also, make sure that they "activate" it - my mom got a PO box before leaving town for a month and when she came back she had no mail. Turns out they never removed the "not in use" sticker on the back of the box so they were sending all her mail back.

Why do we wear clothes? Everyone knows what's underneath mine, but that doesn't mean they need to see it.

What do you mean by internet security package?

Use the street address of your post office and put your PO box number as the unit number. Problem solved.

I use a private mailbox at a UPS Store. It is roughly the same cost as a PO Box. They email me when I get mail or a package and I can call in to check on delivery also. I also have 24 hour access to the box if I need.

I would choose the UPS Store mailbox over a PO Box at a post office any day.

An alternative, as others have mentioned PO box sizing and other issues:

Amazon Lockers. Where I'm at almost every 7-11 has a wall of lockers. Scan your barcode, receive package. Returns work the same way, scan barcode and insert package.

lol exactly. This person doesn't seem to actually have a replacement plan

So uhhh... whats your address, name and postal code?

Most people don't use VPNs to hide from governments. They are protecting their info companies and ISPs. They are good for that and certainly not a waste of money. People that use public networks (Stores, hotels, schools,etc) should never use them without a VPN. They also allow people to sidestep many regional blocks.

Yeah but you also get your kidneys stolen on the way there

Just a tip but you can just pay to get a PO box and opt in to street address the post office. This has been possible since I believe 2012. I use this to get around services that don't deliver to post offices to still deliver to my po box. All you have to do is have a po box and fill out this form.

Check with them first. In my country the post office will not accept delivers from couriers. They'll only accept delivers and mail that are sent through the mail system.

It's roughly double. I use one specifically for getting packages

Everything's expensive here :(

This is why I am against door to door. All of my bills are paperless, the only mail I'm ever going to get are packages. I will gladly walk around the corner to get my mail if it means my packages are locked up in the mail box and not being stolen off my front porch.

As someone who may be transplanting himself with in the next year, thank you. That is something I had not even thought about and after reading your post, I'm probably gonna get one if I end up moving

Ah. USPS will accept deliveries from other companies like UPS and FedEx.

LPT: Some VPN providers can be pressured (and they have been in the past) to monitor and log your incoming and outgoing traffic. They can also be sanctioned to lie to you that they don't log your data or that they would never cooperate with government agencies. Some are honest companies operating off-shore too far away from the clutches of your usual government agency suspects. However, for me, the well has been poisoned.

The dishonest VPN providers will protect you from a wide net government surveillance trawl. However, using their services will also flag you as a potential person of interest and draw actual physical eyes on you. Meanwhile, browsing the Internet without a VPN guarantees the government can get your personal information, but it will likely get stored on some dusty hard drive in some data center basement where it will either remain unaccessed or just skimmed over by an automated script for suspicious activity.

The one thing a VPN is reliable for is protection against private companies and individuals.

My own personal opinion is that VPNs are a waste of money. A good internet security package (which you already need even with a VPN) plus some free plug-ins for your browser will deliver the exact same results in regards to third party tracking as a VPN.

It saddens me to say that government surveillance is an inescapable fact of life.

I just looked online, and that's roughly the going rate for PO boxes in my area and another place I've lived in.

Meh, and I thought it was "Po", the German word for butt.

Free here in my town (we don't get street mail)

I live in a very small and somewhat unwealthy community and they cost about $120 a year here.

There are VPS servers you can rent using bitcoins or starbucks gift cards etc. Your homemade VPN will always have the same IP address, which is isn't as useful as services that offer hundreds of IPs over dozens of countries, but still, it won't be attached to your name in any way, and you can be assured that there are no logs being stored or traffic being sniffed etc.

Yeah, awaiting actual solid advice, not vague 'internet package' wording

my pro tip:

if people don't accept a po box as a valid address, go to mailboxes etc. in your town, or the ups store, and get a box there. they have street addresses instead of po box numbers, and they will forward your mail for a fee.

Also, make sure bills are sent to you and paid electronically. That way you won't be in deep shit if you for some reason are prevented from getting your mail.

I don't know how your mail system works but here the sender and recipient is tracked in the database of whoever is doing the delivering (duh) so its already on a database why not make that database more convenient for you, the user?

Convenience of not missing your W-2's because you forgot to give your employer your new address, then wondering if your old roommates recycled it, or you wait on them promising to forward it, or you bug your employer to get you a new one, hopefully in time to get your taxes done on time.

Butt box

Honestly though, who doesn't have something to hide?

Yeah, say that when someone follows you around with a video camera constantly, without your permission. You'd be pissed.

it won't be attached to your name in any way

Well, unless your compiled web traffic from that IP can lead someone to you personally, which is extremely likely unless you don't use the internet for very much

Yeh - since I started watching midget goat porn my wife has been getting lots of little people and adopt a goat ads on her phone...

I've heard ublock is a good alternative to ABP. But if you use an adblocking app please consider whitelisting sites you visit often.

Something something midget goat porn/victimless crimes.

Or you use secondary and tertiary "identities" for the purposes of whatever activities may fingerprint you. When I'm learning things that may or may not be illicit, I use a separate set of logins, on a separate machine, routed through tor via a whonix vm on my personal media server. When not in use, the vm is down. When it is in use, it's on a day or so before and after, so you can't fingerprint by usage times. I also change my writing style, spelling and grammar habits, and the way I query things in search engines. It's not much, but I'm small potatoes and doing nothing inherently illicit, I just have a general interest in a lot things, some of which are most definitely "gray" areas. I feel that the little security I use affords me the privacy I desire.

Convenience of not having to change your address when moving. That is a royal pain and takes months of nagging companies to stop sending to your old address. Not convenient to have to go somewhere else to get your mail, but like most things in life it's a trade off.

Yeah in Canada through Canada post I think a year of a p.o box is close to $300

Not a good deal here

This is not something of our fault. I am a carrier by the way. It is a contractual agreement you sign in to with a UPS store that says they cannot forward it for the sheer fact it is a business address. They cannot forward a "suite number" without forwarding all mail to that address. They won't tell you this because then they would never have people buy them. You need to manually change your addresses to everything you have sent there and hope to god you know what you are receiving there.

Just recently built a new PC and when I was ordering the stuff off newegg this was a worry for me. Then I saw they have an option to deliver to a FedEx store who will then text you so you can pick up the items at your convenience. I was so excited. This needs to be a more widely available option.

ABP whitelists ads from partners and Ghostery is known to sell usage data.

How do you roll your own without an ip being tracked to you?

Gives a whole new meaning to po boy....

How is taking an image of the envelope an issue? Many people see them all day long. Anyone placing information that should be private on the outside is a fool.

People live packages on your doorstep?

Extremely common in most of the US.

Your PO box would be large enough to accept such packages?

The PO box is large enough to hold a piece of paper saying "pick your package up at the counter".

Can also use this address on a drivers license since it's a physical address. Makes the repo man incredibly angry when he shows up to a mailbox store thinking it's your home.

This depends a lot on the immediate availability of a PO box -- FYI for anyone thinking about trying this, a lot of places have a year+ waiting list to get a box. In my hometown it's almost two years.