Friday 5 May, 2006

Get a post office box with mail redirection

Posted in Advice, Michael Tam at 23:36 by Michael Tam

Original article by: Michael Tam :: Printer friendly

I discovered this in my internship and it is something that you should definitely consider investing in.

There are many good reasons why you should get a personal “post office box”. The main reasons include security, safety, convenience and professionalism.

You will have to trust me on this one, but you do not ever want to be stalked by a patient, particularly a patient with a mental illness or one that has a grievance against you. Considering that over the course of your career (even as a JMO) you will meet literally thousands of patients, even having a very small proportion of “wacky” people being your patients, you will still potentially come to grief (and the proportion of “wacky” people out there isn’t that small). The best way of minimising the risk is:

Never give out your home address to anyone except your family and close friends.

There is no particular reason why the hospital or your workplace needs to know were you live. There is no particular reason why the AMA needs to know where you live. There is no particular reason why publishing companies who send you your journal subscriptions need to know where you live. There is no reason why “bigbargain_oz” who you bought some electronic gear from off Ebay needs to know where you live either.

As a human living in the twenty-first century and particularly as a medical professional, you will need to have a mailing address, and this mailing address will need to be given to dozens of people, companies, and organisations. The hospital, in particular is insecure. If they have your home address, then wily patients will find out a way of getting it. Thus, separate your home address from your mailing address, and the best way is via a Post Office Box.

Why a “mail redirection service” you may ask?

The answer to this is two fold:

  1. Convenience
  2. Provides a permanent mailing address

A mail redirection service from your Post Office Box to your home address means that you never have to go to your post office box to pick up the mail. It will automagically simply appear in your mailbox. You will realise the importance of this the first time you move, and junior medical officers do this often as part of their training. Instead of notifying all your friends, the telephone company, your bank, credit cards, medical indemnity, professional organisations, insurance, the RTA, etc., etc., etc., all you have to do is to go to the post office and change your redirection from the post office box to your new address. It takes 5 minutes and you won’t ever have have to worry about mail going astray.

Even better, since your post office box is “virtual” insofar that mail doesn’t ever actually go into it, you can get the cheapest and smallest one available. Furthermore, this box doesn’t even have to be in the same suburb, town, or state as you. Choose something non-specific. For example, get a post office box in “Sydney”, “Adelaide”, “Melbourne”, etc. (though you have to actually physically go to the specific post office to set up the box in person). For instance, my post office box is in Haymarket in NSW and with the redirection service, this address can be my mailing address (for personal mail at least) for eternity.

The cost?

The price of a small post office box ranges from $60 to $107 (February 2006) up to $159 if you want a swanky “GPO” (General Post Office) address per annum.

Mail redirection for a year costs $66 within Australia for private customers.

Considering that you can tax deduct both fully, it is an absolute bargain. I can quite confidently give out my mailing address to just about anyone without the concern that I may be stalked – or at least having “undesirables” knowing where I live. How much is your peace of mind worth to you?

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