Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Why, where, and how to send cash in the mail
WHY SEND CASH
The "why" is easy, especially for we privacy buffs. There is no trail of identification numbers connected with money orders, checks, or wire transfers. No fees either, other than the cost of first class stamps.
WHERE TO SEND CASH
As for "where," a friend I will refer to here as Bob has been receiving cash for the past 21 years from the United States, Canada, UK, Germany and Spain. His only loss was when a Brit told him he stuffed $4,000 in U.S. currency into a "jiffy bag" (whatever that is) and mailed it to him from London. It never arrived. (Since it would have been a package, Bob assumes it was sent to customs, opened, and the contents pocketed by someone.)
. . . Warning: Never, ever, mail cash to Mexico, Central, or South America. Not even "normal" letters always arrive in these areas.
In general, Bob considers all EU countries to be fairly safe. He does not have experience in Asia or Africa. He says the safest way to check any specific country is to do several mailings of small bills (such as five $1-bills) and find out if they arrive intact.
HOW TO SEND CASH
There is only one way to send cash and that is in a normal (size #10) business envelope that weighs less than one ounce (28 grams). (The problem with sending a gift card in the odd-sized envelope is that a few crooked postal employees have been known to open such envelopes, remembering that cash is often included with a card.)
Limit the enclosure to three or four bills. Wrap them in a thin magazine page, one with lots of pictures with a dark background. Then enclose that in a sheet of white copy paper. With one bill inside (such as a 500-euro note) it will weight just half an ounce (14 grams). With four bills (such as four $100 bills) it will weigh just a few grams more.
A friend of mine says she would never send cash unless it is by certified mail. Her reason is that the receiver might otherwise claim it never arrived (even though it did). In the rare cases where someone asks me to accept a payment in cash, I instruct him or her not to use certified or registered mail. This is because I trust my clients to be honest. Further, I suspect that such mail might draw unwanted attention.
See Chapter 2 in the book How to be Invisible