Are identities at risk for those of us with non-locking mailboxes?
Protecting sensitive mail
It perhaps comes as no surprise that 66% of the mail the Social Security Administration sends out contains someone’s Social Security number. And because the SSA is steeped in so much bureaucratic red tape, it will likely cost them a fortune to change procedures – meaning: it doesn’t look like this bad habit is going to end any time in the near future.
So, it would seem that the burden of protecting our identities rests with “We the People.” But perhaps that's not such a bad thing, after all. As simplistic as it may seem, the least expensive and most accessible solution for some may be the lockable mailbox. And if you live in areas where mail theft is a known concern, it may be worth the cost to install one of these bad boys outside your home or office.
Types of locking mailboxes
Locking mailboxes vary depending on their application (post or wall mounted), brand, size, design, and storage capacity. But most have one key attribute in common: they secure your sensitive mail until you are able to retrieve it. And that's the key thing to remember in all of this.
Locking Post Mailboxes
A number of prominent mailbox brands have their own line of locking post mailboxes, while some niche manufacturers (like Mail Boss), specialize in nothing but mail theft prevention. Below I’ve included a couple of affordable options:
The Geneva Designer Locking Curbside Mailbox
- Why I like it: the Geneva sports a unique, contemporary design and is affordable (priced as low as $140 on some websites). Features include a locking rear-access door for convenient access, as well as a compartment large enough to receive small packages and hold mail for several days (approx. 16 inches wide by 15 inches deep). You can get the box in one of several color options and add custom address letters / numbers to the front.
- Who makes it: Architectural Mailboxes
- Where you can find it: most home & garden retail stores offer this mailbox online – just do a Google search for “Geneva Locking Mailbox” and from there you can shop around or perhaps even find a brick and mortar retailer in your area.
The Delivery Vault Junior Locking Curbside Mailbox
- Why I like it: while its compact size is definitely in its favor, the best thing about this mailbox is that it actually has teeth – inside the mail hopper is a row of rigid teeth designed to deter mail thieves and make them “uncomfortable” should they attempt to reach inside.
- Who makes it: DVault
- Where you can find it: Amazon, Home Depot, Wayfair, Budget Mailboxes, Mailbox Works, etc. As with the Geneva, a quick Google search will turn up a number of results to choose from.
Locking Wall Mailboxes
By nature of its close proximity to the front door (or front porch of your home or business), a wall mailbox is probably less enticing quarry for would-be mail thieves. Still, if you want the added security and peace of mind, you can choose from several affordable locking wall mailboxes on the market. Here are few options:
The Soho Locking Mailbox
- Why I like it: the Soho sports a sleek, contemporary square design. Mail is delivered through the top slot and accessed from the locking door in front. Installation is straightforward: align the mounting holes with the wall, mark the hole locations, drill four holes (plastic anchors are included for brick or masonry), and then mount the box with included screws.
- Who makes it: Architectural Mailboxes
- Where you can find it: same places listed above or do a Google search.
- Check out the YouTube Video below.
The Soho - All Features
The Ultimate High-Security Locking Townhouse Wall Mailbox
- Why I like it: while the Townhouse Wall mailbox by Mail Boss is known for its nearly indestructible design, it also happens to be quite affordable at around $129. Mail is delivered through an incoming mail slot at the very top, while outgoing mail is retrieved from a slightly larger compartment beneath the incoming drop slot. Last but not least, the box’s industrial grade steel design makes it near totally vandal-proof.
- Who makes it: Mail Boss
- Where you can find it: Mail Boss’s website offers a local dealer locator. You can also find these mailboxes on most of the online retail sites previously mentioned.
Locking Inserts for Non-locking Mailboxes
If you feel that a brand new locking mailbox is too sizeable an investment (not to mention the time and labor involved for installation in some cases), don’t despair. Many traditional non-locking mailboxes allow space for a locking insert, which can be a far less expensive but just as effective solution to safeguarding mail. For a post mailbox, a typical locking insert might measure 9 inches wide by 6 inches high by 17 inches deep, but this could vary depending on the brand and if the locking insert is a proprietary design. You can also find locking inserts for wall mailboxes, but these will likely be specific to a particular brand or model.
Alternatives to a locking mailbox
One alternative to owning a locking mailbox is to live in an apartment complex where mail is delivered to a locking CBU mailbox. If you don’t have this option, the other solution is to acquire a P.O. Box with the USPS.
You can have important mail sent to a P.O Box at your local post office and schedule times during the week to retrieve mail. While this may not be the most convenient option, getting a P.O. Box is relatively easy and can be an effective way to secure important mail. Also, some post offices allow 24-hour lobby access to customers. See more info on the official USPS page for renting a box.
Conclusion - We do have options
While we may not be able to change how the government handles and sends out mail with sensitive information, we can take measures to protect our sensitive mail when it comes to where and how it is delivered. Locking mailboxes are a common and proven solution for this problem, but renting a P.O. Box may be a more cost-effective answer depending on your situation.