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PO Box as billing address?

     
9:38 am on Jul 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi Guys,

We're a UK based design company and we've posted to the states before, on more than one occasion somebody in the US has purchased something online and had it delivered here in the UK.

We've just received an order and the billing address is listed in the States and is a simply:

PO BOX 1234 (1234 as an example)
Englewood
12345
United States

Is it common to have PO BOX number as a billing address in the US? This doesn't look like a proper address to me, but I have very little experience with dealing with US customers and addresses.

We use a PO box ourselves, but it is to hide our residential address from customers if we need something sent somewhere other than our studio. Is this the same in the US?
12:27 pm on July 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would not be suprised to see a PO box as the billing address for a business on either side of the Atlantic.

If that is the address to which the payment card is registered then it is the address that will validate.
2:15 pm on July 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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OK cheers, it just struck me as odd, the order was placed in the US by an individual not by a company (they need to specify if it is during the checkout), and is being posted to a residential address here in the UK. We've never seen that before.

We've only been selling online for 12 months and I figured it may have been a dumb question, but I'd still rather ask, we haven't had a fraud order yet, I figure it's coming at some point though.

Matt.
5:09 pm on July 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Almost everyone in my locale has a PO Box as a billing address. Many people don't even know their street address in fact. It isn't used (which gets hard to explain to AAA when sending emergency services. I have to tell them "My address is XYZ but nobody at the local garage will know how to find that").

I actually get my mail at a postal box a few miles from home, but the letter carrier actually translates, so I can receive either at [box number] or [street address].

Normally, a US address would have the city and state though, typically as a two-char abbreviation, like this:

PO BOX 1234 (1234 as an example)
Englewood, CA
12345
United States

That said, a zip code basically maps to a Post Office, so in general

PO BOX 1234
12345
United States

would be work, but perhaps fail CC authorization.

In my case, if you sent a letter addressed in the form

[My First Name] and [My Wife's First Name]
[Postal Code]

It would actually arrive.
6:04 pm on July 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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what really matters is the billing matches the card then I would follow up with a call to the billing that is on the card just to make sure the order is legit.
9:40 pm on July 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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PO Boxes are generally legit-but if the item isn't shipping to the PO Box (billing address), that goes out the window. Your best bet to determine whether the charge is valid or not is to contact the issuing bank of the credit card used for payment and ask them to verify with their customer that the order was placed by them.

Or, if you can verify their correct phone number independently, call them yourself.
11:19 am on July 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have plenty of customers who live in rural areas and so have their bills sent to a PO box. They then might have an order sent to their work. Nothing weird about it, IME.
1:35 pm on July 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would be such a customer.

Where I live, mail is delivered to a box in the local post office. I prefer receiving goods by mail, but if the merchant insists on using courier delivery I have to give a physical address and of course it won't match my billing address. There's no way it can.
4:41 pm on July 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's not being contested that many people legitimately use a PO box as their billing address. This practice is common.

However, an order shipping to a residential address in the UK using ANY billing address in the US should certainly be investigated further before shipping to determine that it is not fraudulent.
5:39 pm on July 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Right akmac... well in that case - when I lived in Switzerland, most ex-pats hung onto their old credit cards, so I would have fallen into that category (if there had been an internet to order over back then).
 

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