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To deter scams that 'use the anonymity of the mail to prey on unsuspecting citizens and businesses,' the U.S. Postal Service has established a new policy requiring identification for holders of private mail boxes (PMBs) Starting April 24, 1999, persons who rent private mailboxes at commercial mail receiving businesses must show a photo identification and verify that they live or conduct business at the address listed on their applications. In addition, the mailing address for such private mailboxes must be stated as 'PMB' for private mail box, instead of 'suite', 'apartment', or a hyphenated number (as in '#100-325'). The PMB designation will let consumers know they are dealing with the holder of a private mailbox, and not an occupant of an office suite or apartment. Private mailboxes are provided by commercial mail receiving agencies (CMRAs), which are private businesses. CMRAs accept their customers' mail from the Postal Service and hold it for pick-up or re-mail it to another address. Better Business Bureau and Postal Service experience show that PMBs as well as post office boxes have often been used to conduct various scams, including work-at-home schemes, advance fee loan schemes, credit card fraud, prize promotion schemes, and various schemes against the elderly. These new rules for PMBs 'close a loophole that previously existed by strengthening the PMB identification procedures,' states the U.S. Postal Service.

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