When the CAN-SPAM Act first hit the 'net, we were required to put our physical mailing address on all emails that were sent out through our opt-in mailing lists. This was originally interpreted to mean that PO Boxes could not be used, only the physical location of the sender/business.
That was later addressed (no pun intended) by the FTC. Unfortunately most people dont realize that a Post Office Box is now considered perfectly acceptable to use in your mailings. And of those that do, a certain percentage believe that a PO Box is 'unprofessional' and/or that it will affect your relationship-building and conversion rates.
But here's a reason NOT to publish your physical address...
Up until CAN-SPAM, I used a post office box for my business and was happy with that arrangement. But when CAN-SPAM went into effect it was originally believed, as I stated above, that we must use our physical locations mailing address only. And so I did.
I didnt think much of it, not having had 'an incident' in the 10 years I've been working online. I have to admit that it was very convenient to have all of my mail delivered directly to my home office too.
But this week I had someone show up at my home.
It was a Wednesday evening, my daughter's birthday in fact. We were all having dinner and doing our 'usual thing' when I heard an unexpected knock at the back door. And there stood a man who had found me online and wanted to speak to me in person.
I was put off, a little shocked and perturbed - but then, who wouldnt be? I'm standing there in a tank top and shorts, hair in a pony tail, a mouthful of lasagna, and kids waiting on me to get ready to go.
This is my home. I happen to work from my home office, sure, but this is the place I let my hair down. The place I raise my children. I dont have to tell you this, I'm sure - you know exactly what I mean. It was a major violation in my book.
Now the guy was harmless, I'll admit - Nice, even I suppose. His explanation for showing up was that I hadnt returned his calls or responded to his email message, both of which he had waited 24 hours to hear back from me on.
Do I owe him my time? No, of course not. But I felt that was the insinuation - 'since you didnt answer my phonecalls or reply to my emails, I thought I would try catching you at home'.
I guess I should just be happy he didnt catch me sunbathing, napping, hanging my undergarments out on a clothesline (lol I dont do that anyway ) or something along those lines.
Still, I couldnt help thinking that it could have been anyone. I think of how free we have felt here, the kids coming and going, playing outside, that kind of thing. And all of a sudden I feel incredibly vulnerable. The 'visit' was harmless, sure, but how do I really know that the next person wont be casing me out or some kind of freak or pedofile. Geez.
I've put a lot of thought into this over the last 48 hours. Obviously I am getting another PO Box and will be publishing that instead of my physical address from this point forward. Which means I have quite a bit of updating/editing to do across the board - domain registrations, mailing list settings, all of my websites, etc.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I have to move. Everything is cached, or otherwise accessible in one way or another (archives people have stored from their email, you name it). I was planning to move next year anyway, as this was a temporary spot to think and rest after my grandmother passed. Of course, now I'm feeling a major sense of urgency on the matter.
Dont get me wrong. I'm not fooled into thinking that any situation will bring a complete sense of security. People can get the information, follow you home from the post office, you name it. Someone with bad intentions will find a way to carry them out, regardless.
But I certainly dont like the idea of being a sitting duck.
Is Security & Privacy an issue to you? How available do you make yourself? Feel free to leave your thoughts below...