From the July 1999 issue of Startups

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says they're combating mail fraud. Opponents say the USPS is punishing its competition--private mail centers. And homebased entrepreneurs? Under a new regulation, you're being stripped of your privacy.

This new USPS regulation requires private mail centers to collect information on renters (two IDs and a traceable number--most likely your social security number) for a USPS database. The crux of the issue? It's illegal for the USPS to collect this data itself, and the burdensome process is expected to cost mail centers $1 billion within the first six months after the regulation's onset. Approximately 70 percent of the 1 million private mailbox renters are people conducting business.

Private mail centers must also label these addresses as PMBs (private mailboxes). What's more, the "suite" numbers many homebased business owners use to give their mailbox addresses a corporate feel are no longer allowed. "As a private mailbox holder, you're branded differently than if you have an office suite and receive your mail within that physical building," says Debra Schacher, a marketing communications consultant and chair of the National Home Office & Business Opportunities Association.

Meanwhile, as a hombased entrepreneur, you'll incur the expense of changing letterhead and business cards, hoping your clients and suppliers get the message before October 25--which marks the end of the six-month grace period the USPS is providing users. After that cutoff date, incorrectly addressed mail won't be delivered.

Legislators are already fighting back: Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced the Mailbox Privacy Protection Act to overturn the rule. And Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) is exploring the idea of amending the Treasury Postal Appropriation Bill to include a one-year moratorium on any proposed postal regulations.

Contact Source
Debra Schacher
92 Corporate Park, #C250
Irvine, CA 92606