A virtual mailbox is ideal if you want to manage your mail and packages more effectively. And at the same time, separate home and work life. With a virtual mailbox, your remote business will have a professional mailing address where you receive postal mail and shipments.
Whether you need it for travel, relocation, or simply the ability to sort out mail online, a high-quality virtual mailbox service can help you stay organized.
But are virtual mailboxes safe? Will the information in your mail stay confidential?
Let’s take a look. We’ll also weigh the pros and cons and help you decide the best service available in 2023 and beyond.
What Is A Virtual Mailbox?
A virtual mailbox, also called a digital or cloud-based mailbox, is a digital service that offers a permanent or real street address with a personal box number. It is where your paper mail is scanned and saved digitally.
How a virtual address works is simple:
1. You receive a virtual address.
2. Your physical mail arrives at that address.
3. The exterior envelopes are scanned, and you can view them online through a virtual mailbox.
4. You pick which mails you want to be opened and scanned. The digital mailbox service of your choice will scan and upload the document to your digital mailbox.
5. You can have certain items shredded or recycled, allowing you to organize your mail anytime and from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Pros of Using Virtual Mailboxes
Security and privacy
Signing up for a virtual mailbox means you don’t need to deal with business mails via your home address. You collect and save your mails through a virtual address instead.
A good virtual mailbox provider has digital security measures, including two-factor authentication and encryption. They will also ensure that no data can be retrieved from the discarded mail. This is done by shredding the original mail after getting your consent.
A virtual address likewise helps you maintain your privacy. The public will see the virtual address, not your home address.
Easier access to mail
Sorting through mail is time-consuming and tedious, especially if you also receive junk mail. Virtual mailboxes or straightforward mail forwarding services allow you to separate your business and personal mail.
You can access your mails from anywhere, so there’s no need to pick it up in person. You can manage your packages and postal mail online or with a smartphone app anytime. Truly, it’s a complete digital mailbox solution.
Have you experienced searching through a mountain of old junk mail to locate a single important tax form or bill you unintentionally misfiled weeks ago? A digital record of your mails makes the retrieval process easier.
More efficient mail management
With virtual mailbox services, you have complete control of your mail. You can choose whether it will be opened or scanned – and how it will be destroyed.
You can also have mail forwarded to an address of your choosing. Visiting the post office to receive your mail physically is a hassle. With virtual mailboxes, you are in the driver’s seat of mail management, and you are your own postmaster.
Digitizing incoming business mail also means:
- Saving time scanning documents
- Effortless record-keeping
- OCR-ed (Optical Character Recognition) PDF files for easy searching of documents
- The ability to view mail received months or years ago.
Build credibility with customers
Having a physical address that is not a P.O. Box or your home address gives your business credibility and an air of professionalism that customers automatically trust. You can even put that virtual address on your accept customer letters, website, and packages.
What a Virtual Address Is Not
Although a virtual mailbox provides businesses several benefits, it’s necessary to know its limitations.
A virtual address is not a Registered Agent nor a foreign qualification. In contrast to a virtual mailbox, a Registered Agent is a business entity or a person that receives legal and tax documents on behalf of a business.
LLCs and Corporations are legally required to have a Registered Agent. A foreign qualification, on the other hand, is a form of business registration that enables you to do business in a state other than the one you formed or incorporated your business.
What Does a Virtual Mailbox Look Like?
How a virtual mailbox looks and how you access it depends on your provider. Most virtual mailboxes are easy and automatically remove the junk mail you receive. Thus, it lessens the burden on you, and you can focus more on things that matter more in your business.
Some virtual mailbox contains the contact information of people you know. You can choose the information you want to share with your clients, colleagues, family, or friends. Your provider is simply tasked to receive your mails, scan them, and send them to you.
So, Are Virtual Mailbox Services Safe?
Yes, virtual mailboxes are safe, but it depends on your chosen service provider.
They’re safe because they’re not available to the public and are accessed exclusively online. High-quality virtual mailbox services operate from secure data centers and implement the latest security protocols, such as full disk encryption and 128-bit SSL encryption for all customer data.
Virtual mailboxes are also safer than traditional mailboxes. The Postal Inspection Service data revealed that mail theft soared 600% over the past three years – from 25,000 to about 177,000 in 2020.  It happens because most people don’t watch their physical mailboxes 24/7.
Still, not all virtual mail providers disclose their policies for mail processing or whether they screen their employees. There are also risks involved in using virtual mailboxes.
Cons of Using Virtual Mailboxes
Potential for identity theft
Like all things digital, identity theft is a risk if you choose the wrong virtual mailbox service. After all, what’s to stop them from taking your information if they have access to your mail?
Identity theft includes a malicious actor that illegally obtains personal data (name, date of birth, credit card details, social security number, etc.) and utilizes it for identity fraud (applying for loans, cloning credit cards, extorting the victim, etc.)
Moreover, identity theft has significant impacts on your legal standing and finances. The cost is huge, from causing legal troubles to destroying your credit score. 
Potential for data breaches
Another disadvantage of a virtual mailbox is the potential for data breaches. After all, you access and manage your mail online. Not all virtual mailboxes follow the best practices for privacy and security.
Some virtual address services even use third-party Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRAs), which makes your mail less secure. Remember that the security of each CMRA differs.
A virtual address provider’s website may share the security measures they implement in their facilities. Yet, the same doesn’t apply to third-party providers.
So, arm yourself with updated information about the service you plan to use and what they do to protect your privacy and security.
Furthermore, pay attention to their Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. SSL encrypts your data so it can’t be intercepted by third parties.
Possibility of mail being intercepted
A user can generally intercept a mail delivery and have it sent elsewhere or returned. This process becomes problematic if done by third parties without the owner or user’s authority.
If it happens, the third party can prevent an important message from being delivered to the mailbox of the supposed recipients or virtual addresses.
The good news is with the right virtual mailbox service, you don’t have to worry about identity theft, data breach, and mail and package intercept.
Thatch virtual mailbox, for instance, ensures full visibility into your mail receipt history so you can easily check delivery dates, scan dates, and upload dates of all your mail.
Still Need A PO Box
Although a good virtual or mail forwarding service can often replace a PO box, you may still need one. This applies to business owners who must register their businesses with the state. In that case, they may still be required to have a PO box for receiving business mail.
How to Choose a Safe Virtual Address for Your Business (The Safe Mailbox Checklist)
- Know which level of security you want. Both physical and digital security is crucial to virtual mailboxes. So, determine the level of security you want and check if the virtual mailbox service you’re planning to use meets it.
Look also for restricted access to areas where mail is scanned and opened, identity verification protocols of customers and staff, proper storage of mail, and proper disposal of mail no longer needed.
- Consider the location of the virtual mailbox. Sometimes, you may want to pick up mail in person. So, pay attention to the location of the mailbox. A virtual mailbox with a physical address near you may be more convenient.
Meanwhile, if you’re a digital nomad who frequently travels, you may want to pick a provider with locations in different cities so it’s easy to change your virtual mailing address when necessary.
- Check if they have a mobile app. A virtual mailbox provider with a mobile app can make your life easier. You won’t need to bring your laptop on vacation or drop in a nearby internet cafe just to check your mail. As long as you have your phone, you can get real-time alerts of new mail and read letters.
- Assess their physical address’ quality. Not all virtual address services have something like an Amazon Warehouse address. Although some have state-of-the-art facilities, others may have just a post office box.
Some providers rent out a space in the UPS store’s physical mailbox. There’s nothing wrong with these options, but know what you’re getting, especially if that virtual address will represent your business.
- Ensure they have locations all over the world. The more locations a virtual mailbox provider has, the more flexibility you have as its user. This is a top consideration if you travel a lot. But if you only travel within the US, you may not need a provider with international locations.
We highly recommend virtual mailboxes to long-term travelers, home office workers or online businesses, digital nomads, ex-pats who frequently travel because of their job, and people living in vans (RVers and Vanlifers).
Whether you’re an individual or a business owner that requires the benefits and convenience of a remote address while on the move, a highly secured virtual mailbox is definitely the way to go!
Yes, virtual mailboxes are safe. You only have to find the right partner to move forward and prevent the risks mentioned above (potential for identity theft, data breaches, and mail being intercepted).
All the mail and information a virtual mailbox provider handles are encrypted and safe. And unlike a physical mailbox, you can conveniently access mail from anywhere. The wide range of benefits includes
- Mail and package forwarding
- Personal address privacy
- A digital record of business mail
- Easier access to mail
- More efficient mail management
- An acceptable physical address for the federal agency and bank documents
Thatch is a safe mailbox service that checks all your boxes for a great virtual mailbox provider.
We take our customer’s security and privacy into account every step of the way. Our mailbox service is HIPAA Compliant, PCI Compliant, SOX Compliant, and SSAE-18 Certified.
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