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Are identities at risk for those of us with non-locking mailboxes?

Updated on October 26, 2016
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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.

Hurray.

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 by Architectural
The Geneva by Architectural

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 by DVault
The Delivery Vault Junior by DVault

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 by Architectural
The Soho by Architectural

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 Townhouse Mailbox by Mail Boss
The Ultimate Townhouse Mailbox by Mail Boss

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.

A typical mailbox locking insert
A typical mailbox locking insert

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.

A USPS P.O Box
A USPS P.O Box

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.

Extra resources: Mail Boss

Poll - Is a locking mailbox worth it?

Do you think owning a locking mailbox is a feasible solution for mail-theft prevention?

See results

Comments

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    • Mowgli Jenkins profile image

      Mowgli Jenkins 

      22 months ago

      This article isn't as funny as your other ones. Stick to comedy.

    • profile image

      norep 

      22 months ago

      Great breakdown of information here. Very helpful. Thanks!!

    • profile image

      Biggunn05 

      2 years ago

      Great information ,thanks!

    • profile image

      Nicole Tyree 

      2 years ago

      Nice to see some locking boxes with some curb appeal - I love that Geneva one.

    • profile image

      Steven P 

      2 years ago

      Hi there, thanks for this article. I am hoping to show this to my wife so she will finally believe me.

    • Corry Advinson profile image

      Corry Advinson 

      2 years ago

      Hey there you have some nice boxes but where can I find a landlord who'll upgrade the cheap crap we got out front to one of them Mail Bosses? Gotta convince the boss to get a Mail Boss. You feel me?

    • profile image

      Fred Roland 

      2 years ago

      Are there cluster boxes that are more secure than others? My HOA is considering a few options and they want to make sure that whatever they choose is USPS approved as well as secure.

    • profile image

      Hannah Leigh 

      2 years ago

      My company is looking into replacing the regular multi unit mailboxes on posts at a property we manage, and some of the residents are asking for locking mailboxes. Any suggestions for options for this?

    • profile image

      Laci Bennett 

      2 years ago

      Thanks for the insight. My HOA is considering options, however, USPS has mentioned something about new codes, the need to upgrade and something about a centralized mailing station. Any chance you could shed some light on the above?

    • profile image

      Lanny 

      2 years ago

      Are the locking mailboxes approved by the USPS?

    • profile image

      Buck Reed 

      2 years ago

      Where can I find information out about getting new mailboxes for my neighborhood? The cluster kind.

    • profile image

      Simons 

      2 years ago

      Very helpful information. Thanks for this!

    • Irvin Watson profile imageAUTHOR

      Irvin Watson 

      2 years ago from Mainland, Western Australia, Australia

      Hi, Rob. There should be a locking insert for that box. Query Google for "Locking insert for gibraltar mailbox" and you should get some relevant results. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Rob 

      2 years ago

      Where can I find a locking insert to fit my Gibraltar mailbox? Do they make ones that fit?

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