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Stage Name: Addressing PO Box Mail To A Pseudonym

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by KMGC, Jul 28, 2010.

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  1. KMGC

    KMGC Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I recently changed a PO Box I've had for over 15 years, to another one at another post office.
    While the account is in my name, I also use a pen name for some online publishing and correspondence (as well as have a credit card in that name, as a "secondary authorized user").
    The problem is, as a result of 9/11, for each name listed for PO Box service, you now need two forms of ID, at least one of which is government issued with photo.
    Needless to say, it isn't likely possible to get an official ID (particularly with photo), either for the pseudonym or as a co-ID, linking the two names——or is it?
    Is there some process or special SSA or Homeland Security form——declaring under penalty of perjury——that one can declare the person and pseudonym are one and the same or even get a separate government ID card in that name (that the government knows is a pseudonym)?
    If not, how do authors/writers, actors, performers, etc., deal with this problem?
    I would think that writers, etc., that use pen/stage names get mail addressed to them that way at a PO Box, have bank accounts under that name, etc.
    Again, I have no problem with the government knowing my actual name (as long as it's not public record available on the internet), and identity may be too strong a word—it is just the name itself that is different, not a separate "identity" (i.e., there isn't some pseudopersona, false-history with bogus credentials attached to the name). One suggestion I've heard is to set the name up as a DBA, though the problem with that is you have to provide a physical address and it is all public record (you may have to even publish it in the newspaper!)! :cool:
    That defeats the whole purpose!
    Is there a FAQ addressing this issue?

    Ӄαlνιη
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I've never had a problem picking up my mail from the Post Office as long as I had my PO Box key. If it's already set up, you shouldn't have problems. Many entertainers I know use an intermediary for correspondence, e.g. their agent.
     
  3. KMGC

    KMGC Law Topic Starter New Member

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    It isn't a matter of picking it up, it's getting the mail put in the box to begin with!
    As I said, I had a PO Box for over 15 years with no problem, but I recently got a new box at a new PO. That's where the problem is! :eek:
     
  4. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    All because the name of the box is rented under your name does not mean you have to give it out to clients under that same name. You can rent a box under your real name as John Smith, but have the same PO box listed on your business card as belonging to a stage name of Jonathon Smythe and direct mail to it.

    Unless the Post Office tells you that they will not deliver mail not addressed specifically to John Smith, this shouldn't be an issue.

    So, get the box in your name and use it to receive mail under your pen name.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Again, excellent advice from CDW Java.
    As a personal note, I've done this exact thing for legal correspondence.
    I do pro bono appellate criminal defense work.
    Inmates send their requests for legal assistance to my legal charity at my PO BOX.
    The box is paid for in my legal name, but their requests and correspondence are addressed to the legal charity.
    I've done this for many, many years with no problems.
    Be advised, I live in a small, backwater, community hidden off an Interstate.
    Things are different in rural Texas.
    However, I've also done this when I resided in large, metroplexes!
     
  6. KMGC

    KMGC Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That is exactly the problem:
    "(W)ho receive mail in the Post Office box" means addressed to them, not "pick up the mail" (it's noted on the application that possession of a key is considered valid evidence for removing mail from the box).

    I mean talk about overkill! :nuts
    All that should be required is list the pen name as "a.k.a., (pen name)": Since the true name of the applicant is extensively ID'ed, if there is any issue involving the pen name "person", the PO knows who s/he is and can respond appropriately.
     
  7. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    The process you are referring to appears to be for people to have access to the box, not that they are going to verify the mail in the box is addressed to Mr. Smith or not. It says that each adult that receives mail must have two verifiable forms of ID, it does NOT say that only mail addressed to Mr. Smith (the registered owner of the box) will be put into it. So, if the box belongs to Mr. Smith, unless Jane Doe is on the list and has been so verified, she's not going to be able to get a key issued or go to the desk and retrieve the mail to Mr. Smith's Box 123.

    Have you asked the Postmaster about this? I suspect you are reading far too much into the rules for signing up and transferring that information into the rules for delivery.
     
  8. KMGC

    KMGC Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes I did: BoxLine clerk, supervisor, consumer affairs...
    They all say the same thing——it means mail addressed to the person, not pick up the mail.
    Supposedly they passed my request on to the inspectional services, to see if they will approve it.
    Right now, as a temporary workaround, I'm advising people to address as "Jonathon Smythe or Current Boxholder", which is considered "exceptionally addressed" mail and must be delivered unless vacant or no such address exists! :D
     
  9. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    How very odd. When I had a PO Box I got stuff addressed to other people (or simply, "Occupant" even though I clearly did not live in a PO Box) with some frequency.

    I can't find anything about this rule anywhere on the USPS website.

    So, if the box is in the name of John Smith and mail comes for Johnathon Smythe, have you asked what would happen to it? Do they return it to sender? What?

    The people at this post office must have a lot of time on their hands if they screen the mail that carefully! At my Post Office they pretty much put what is addressed to PO Box 53 into Box 53. I'd be surprised if they even looked at the name.

    And I note you asked a BoxLine clerk ... was that someone on site? or someone on-line? The on-site answer may be a little more realistic.
     
  10. KMGC

    KMGC Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Right, either as "unknown" or "not authorized to receive mail".

    It's at the DMM link I gave:

    http: //pe.usps.com/text/DMM300/508.htm#wp1054023

    This is the actual application (see pg.3, #9):

    http: //www .usps.com/forms/_pdf/ps1093.pdf

    This is a big, district PO with administrative offices and the clerk says the inspectors are always checking the records.
    I never had a problem at the old PO, where I had the box for over 15 years, but I opened it before the 9-11/immigration paranoia, so I think they just don't bother you if you are already established (or more likely they couldn't be bothered checking all the past records!). I called the old PO and asked if I could open a box and also use a pen name, but got the exact same spiel about needing verifiable ID, etc.
    So I think it's just a case of, if they know you and/or it's already established, they won't bother you. Otherwise... :dunno:
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  11. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    Maybe you need to consider that DBA. Yes, the records are public, but unless you are engaged in a criminal enterprise or have some nefarious business dealings, what are the odds that someone will bother checking? If they know you as John Smythe, why would they want to check?

    Your other option might be to use a private postal service. Maybe something like Mailboxes,Etc.?
     
  12. KMGC

    KMGC Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Nope, the PO has such commercial mail receiving agencies (CMRAs) under the same thumb:

    I wouldn't mind so much if someone knew it was a DBA and then had to explicitly contact the clerk's office to get the information, but I believe the information is published in the public record (maybe even in the newspaper) so, as everything is computer based these days, if someone googles "Johnathon Smythe" and "John Smith" is on the same page, "the gig is up"! :eek:
    I don't just mean people, but also marketers (and anyone else that the business world might think that the DBA "business" may be interested in), as I use this name for my public marketing profile (e.g., CVS and Staples shopping cards), too.
    I probably should ask if it is okay to just get the name "notarized" by a notary public as an AKA (if there is such a thing?)——i.e., like a DBA, except it's not declared a business, with your real name and personal address declared in public.
     
  13. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    Well, I understand your concern about the public notice ... but, do you actually think anyone will read that? And a paper of general circulation where you reside is not the same as a paper of general circulation nation-wide. If you do a lot of business out of the area the odds of anyone reading it drop from slight to infinitesimal.

    It certainly won't hurt to ask the USPS about your options.

    If your whole life is around this alias, why not legally change your name? Or, just become a business or legal corporation? Jonathon Smythe of Widgets, Inc. and have the PO Box in the name of Widgets, Inc?
     

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