Are Virtual Mailbox Services Safe? Security & Privacy Issues
Virtual mailbox services can provide a level of convenience that is hard to beat. Whether you’re an ex-pat living abroad and need access to your mail, or a medium-sized business that is looking to outsource your mailroom activities, there is a package out there for you.
However, how safe are these virtual mailbox services?
Sensitive personal or business information and documents are being handled by a 3rd party. With that, comes a lot of responsibility from the service provider.
In this article, we will look at some of the security and privacy issues that should be considered when using a virtual mailbox.
Physical mail security
First, we will look at how secure your physical mail is when using one of these services.
As you will probably be aware, your physical mail is sent to an address managed by the mailbox provider (For more information on how virtual mailboxes work, head here).
The management method of these will vary between service providers. For example, it could be that a lock and key PO Box is the location of your virtual address.
Other providers may have a central head office and all mail is directed there. Some will use a combination of both.
If you are planning on sending signed-upon-receipt documents and parcels, you will want to use a virtual mailbox that is actively managed with on-location personnel and/or guarded security.
These details can normally be found out in the About and FAQ pages of a chosen provider. The good news is, security is a major priority with these services (and rightly so); your physical mail is well looked after as a result.
Furthermore, all of these services offer secure shredding and disposal as well as storage of your mail, depending on your request.
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Online digital mailbox security
After your physical mail is delivered to your provider, they will turn it into digital form.
The first step is a scan of the envelope so that you can see what it is and request further action. Should you want scanned images of the content, all of that will enter the digital domain.
Needless to say, this means that the provider has to ensure high-level online security for the email and app forwarding of your virtual post.
This encryption and decryption process helps to ensure that sensitive information is only read by its intended recipients.
Two-factor authorization means the end-user has to give 2 pieces of evidence to prove their identity.
These days this can be done almost automatically in the form of your cell-phone digit password and thumbprint. (On a laptop it might be password plus security question)
Mailbox services should ensure that their emails to mailbox owners are encrypted so that emails are kept secure.
These advanced, yet widely used security measures not only ensure the end-user is the right one but also prevent the successful hacking of accounts while data is in the cloud.
Virtual Mailbox Privacy Issues
Needless to say, privacy is a very important consideration when using a virtual mailbox service.
The provider will be managing your mail and this can and will include bank statements, legal contracts, credit card numbers, and even check deposits.
Legally, the companies cannot share any of these details of course. However, it does make sense to pay close attention to the privacy agreement that you have to agree to on sign-up.
Read the small print to ensure you are happy with the way your privacy is handled. Read reviews of the service too. If previous customers have complained of privacy problems you will want to avoid them.
A weak link could be in the measures the provider takes in vetting their staff.
As your mail will be opened, read, and scanned by the employees of the virtual mailbox company, knowing that background checks are conducted on staff members that handle sensitive information will give you peace of mind.
A positive aspect of mailbox service in terms of privacy is that you do not have to use your home address for business mail.
As we covered here, using a home address for business purposes can cause complications because clients and customers know exactly where you live.
Having your personal address made public is never a good idea.
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Are virtual mailboxes safe? The answer is a resounding yes. These companies have methods and policies to ensure the safety and privacy of your mail.
Technical measures and are also employed in order to maintain high-levels of security.
If a mailbox provider didn’t do all of this, they would not be in business for very long.
That being said, it is important to be aware of what the various privacy and security risks might be when using such a service.
We hope that this article has covered that.