Some questions about safety!

Hi! I just joined, this sounds like an absolutely amazing community & it’s something I’ve always wanted to try out. I have a lot of questions about safety though because absolute strangers from across the world having my name + address sounds a bit worrying & PO boxes are way too expensive to really consider.

The address where my postcard would get sent is shared with others, so it’s likely that they may come across it or see it. I’m worried about getting inappropriate or rude ones, so I’m wondering if there is a report system in place? Is there anyway to only get postcards from members that are known to be safe?

I think I’ll be able to hide my full name (which is quite rare and would lead to anyone being able to find me) on the postcard because I know it’ll get to me, but I’m still worried about this. Has anyone had any negative experiences with weirdos or creeps? Hopefully not, I might just be being a bit paranoid!

Lastly, I still live with my mother, so does anyone have any tips I could use to convince her that this is safe?? It might be a losing battle haha, I’m at university after the summer so I might just have to wait until then!

Thanks in advance for any help :slight_smile:

edit: Thank you to everyone for the kind replies!! I’m feeling much better about starting off now, and I might do as @borealis suggested and just send some for now & wait a while before starting to receive them. So glad I found this website!

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Welcome to the Postcrossing Community!

There is a report system as well as on the official Postcrossing site as on the Forum.
You can always contact the administrators if there are problems with a received card. They will then contact the sender if necessary and let you know what to do with that card (register or not register or…).

So far I never had any really negative experiences here.

If you don’t want people from nearby (your country) be able to see your address, there’s an option not to send and receive cards from your own country.

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I use my uni address, which is to a mailroom as opposed to a flat, which gives an extra layer of security. But honestly the chances of someone from another country being able to use your name and address for any nefarious purpose are fairly low imo. You could put ur account into context for your mum by showing how many UK addresses are in the PC system, and how few it’s possible to request at a time - the chances of your name being drawn by a minority of gross people is absolutely tiny!

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I get your hesitation. Putting your physical address out there for STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET can feel very risky. And, to be sure, it’s not 100% risk-free. That said, I also don’t feel like it’s a high-risk activity, despite how it might sound at first. You’re giving out your mailing address, not your credit card info, phone number, social insurance number (or whatever the UK equivalent is). And that address (unless you chose otherwise) will only be given to people outside your country. So you’ll be guaranteed a certain amount of distance from the people that will have your information.

As you said, you can always choose to use a pseudonym with your account. You don’t have to fill in your date of birth or any other identifying information if you don’t want to. Yes, people will have your address but, if they’re hoping to harvest addresses for nefarious purposes, frankly, there are much more efficient ways to do it than through Postcrossing. Especially since sending limits for new accounts/users are so low.

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I have been doing postcrossing for more than 13 years now with no issues. I understand your concerns, but I have yet to encounter creeps. :slight_smile:

The scam calls and mail you get when changing an address through USPS are way worse!

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Yes, you can definitely use a pseudonym, lots of people do. I don’t put my picture or my birthdate on my profile or any other personal identifying info. The map that shows up on your profile is deliberately shows a general area, not specific to your address.

As other posters have said, there is a distance created by the randomness of address assignment & because the cards can come from all over the world.

Btw, 65% of the members use female pronouns and in the 8 months I’ve been here I’ve generally found the community quite welcoming & generally respectful of people’s boundaries & the rules of Postcrossing. I only know of one instance where someone new was made to feel uncomfortable & that was dealt with quite quickly by the Admin folks who work very hard to make sure Postcrossing is a welcoming, safe place.

You can make your profile on the Forum non-public & make your profile on the main site visible to PC members only. Both places have their own messaging systems so you don’t have share any email addresses with anyone.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask here or message me or others, people are quite willing to help. Good luck & enjoy Postcrossing - it’s so worth it to be part of this community.

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Welcome to the Postcrossing Community. Like most areas of life, you need to exercise prudence. With my other P-Xing account (joined in 2011), I haven’t had any bad experiences to date. Others have made good suggestions (e.g. not getting addresses from your own country). I think the investment in a post office box is well worth it; I have had them since 1987. But I don’t know the cost structure in the UK.

One little tweak you can make is only having the Initial of your first name. An example: a person named “Suzanne Jacobs”…on the address supplied to Postcrossing becomes “S. Jacobs.” In your profile, you can be as brief as you wish. But it should come across as friendly. Introducing yourself, something about your interests…that sort of thing.

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Addresses are only shown to the users assigned to send you a postcard. Each user can only request a limited number of addresses to send to at a time, and the addresses are assigned randomly. So, it’s only those few people who are actually sending you a card that will see your address. At my previous residence, my housemate didn’t mind using our address for postcrossing (actually, she had an account too!), but now that I live with my partner, he prefers not to give out our address, so I use a PO Box for postcrossing. The advantage of the PO Box is that I feel quite safe posting the address publicly on my blog since no one could use it for nefarious purposes. If your mother is worried, then I would recommend the PO Box route. Mine costs $150/year which works out to $12.50/month. I think it’s a good price for peace of mind. :slight_smile:

Edit: I realized I probably misunderstood what you meant in the part I quoted above. Oops. I will say that I have never received any message on a postcard that I would be embarrassed for a housemate to see. I did get one or two ‘pinup’ style cards which weren’t to my taste and could possibly offend someone, but I think if you put a note on your profile that you don’t want “adult” topics/images, you are probably safe.

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@fire_maggie I think the OP meant that they cohabitate with several other people and thus their housemates might see the postcards. My assumption was that this was possibly an issue of consent? ie. Even if the OP decides that they’re comfortable with having the address in the Postcrossing system, the other members of the household might not be.

@haxo I do think that if your mom (or other members of the household) are not comfortable with having their address handed out on Postcrossing, you may be best off either waiting until you’ve moved or getting a PO box as others have suggested.
I do still feel that Postcrossing is very low-risk. There’s no harm in discussing the details of what it is and how the site works with your mom/household. If you can get them onboard, great! Maybe once they understand more about how it works and how the addresses are handed out, they’ll be more comfortable with it. If not, you may just have to sit tight for a while.

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Remember, even if you choose to wait till you move out, you can still send cards. You can get to at least 50 before Postcrossing tells you you have to activate your account. If you want to send without receiving, set your account to inactive.

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That is an excellent point! That could give you a way to participate right away without having to share your address quite yet. :smiley:

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I also never had a bad experience, at all.
Your address is only seen by the person who sends you a postcard, and once you receive the postcard it can no longer be seen by that person.
I don’t use my full name - in some countries that is impossible to avoid (e.g. they don’t use flat numbers but surnames) but I was in the UK for the first 3 years of my Postcrossing life and my first name + initial of my surname was totally fine.

I think it’s important to make yourself not too identifiable on the internet, e.g. I wouldn’t share my date of birth, or my profession. Initially I had nothing that anyone that knows me could identify me with, though admittedly my current profile is quite revealing based on the countries I lived in. Might change it actually… But that is because I am always paranoid about people who know me in real life recognising me, I don’t know why I feel that is so awkward!

But safety-wise, I cannot think of a single situation that I found even remotely worrying. I once got the address, to send to, of someone who lived not so far away, I was surprised as even if you send within your own country there is a distance limit, eg. you’d not get anyone in your same city - but this person was in a place I used to pass by on the train almost weekly (still 1 hour+ journey by public transport from where I lived). That’s it, I sent the postcard and mentally waved hi while my train went past that town.

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Not strictly true; they can no longer see it one the website, but it’s also been sent by email, so easy to store.

Other than that, I do like you. I use my first name and initial, to avoid anyone searching for me online.

I wasn’t aware there was distance limit on your own country, that’s interesting. I’ve imagined people drawing addresses where they could walk up and put it in the mailbox themselves!

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Ah, that’s true! I forgot as I never look at the emails. I used to delete them but then I realised one person changed address after I had sent her my card, I was a bit annoyed but I couldn’t prove it as I had deleted the email…

Eheh no, the system is set up so cleverly in many ways, including to avoid such situations. Of course there are many circumstances in life where you might be visiting another place often and end up near enough to one of you recipients, but not based on your regular address. I don’t remember what the limit is and if it is a number of km or, say, by city limits.

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I don’t see why it’s got anything to do with your mother.

If you’re concerned about privacy, I’d also suggest not to use this username on other sites. Sometimes people have other social media accounts and they tend to use the same name. It might not seem like a big deal but one of the accounts would have a DOB, the other would have pictures and another would have some other identifiable information.

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As others have pointed out, you can limit the amount of information you expose here, so the only thing given out to a random Postcrosser who draws your profile is your mailing address to send you a postcard.

Nothing weird or bad has happened since I started Postcrossing. People are basically thoughtful and kind, and only interested in postcard exchanges.

Something funny did happen once, though: a Postcrosser received my postcard (with my return address on the card) and looked up my house on Google street view. They let me know a man (my husband!) was making a rude hand gesture in the front garden. :rofl::rofl::rofl:

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My safety tips are:
write everything like it might leak one day

So something to make things safer, don’t use your whole name.
Don’t share your birth day.
(Don’t tell your gender)
(Don’t accept private swap askings)
Don’t tell your occupation in detail (where you work or study).
Don’t tell you live alone, if you do.
Don’t put a pretty profile picture of yourself. :frowning:
Don’t write the names of your family, friends etc.

Also, don’t do this secretly. Especially not from your mother. If something happens, you have the secret on top of that, so if you openly do this, and show the cards, your mother will see, the cards are mostly very nice. But if something not so nice happens, it’s easier to tell about it, when you’ve openly weighed the pros and cons together with your mother (for example). Tell you will meet strangers in the uni, and they see where you live. It can be worrisome too. In Postcrossing there’s always the safety distance.

Think how many people already know where you live, and you still have the right to feel safe in your home. If you feel a tiny bit of unsafety because of what someone does here, tell it to someone, or to many people, and report them to the Postcrossing team. If someone writes uncomfortable things, say you don’t like that, and don’t reply any more. Like in normal life.

I haven’t had anything unpleasant happen here. Or not very rude cards, I think two card were little “weird”.

Before joining here, I wrote letters with strangers (in the beginning), one told he loves me in his first letter, so I just stopped writing.

And I think, the best thing is, you are thinking about the safety. It already shows responsibility.

In my experience, this is one of the safest hobbies :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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I had the same feeling when I started Postcrossing. But it’s not a one-way-situation: You also get the addresses of many strangers all across the world. :wink: I think of it as a “deal of trust”: Every member who uses the own address has to trust the others that they won’t fool around with his/her personal data.

So far I’ve never been sent un inappropriate message that would have made me feel unsafe. If so, I’d report it to the team.

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I TOTALLY understand your hesitation. Whenever I tell people I do this site they are like “Isn’t that dangerous?” but so far I have had NO creeps or bad experiences. I dont put my picture, last name, birthday, or age on the site.
As for tips to convince your mom, tell her what everyone on this site has said! Its pretty safe. You MIGHT have a bad experience, or you might not! its a wonderful opportunity for being exposed to cultural diversity AND getting off the screens every once in a while! Try it!

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