If you’re among the millions of online shoppers waiting for packages to be delivered to your door this holiday season, there’s a scam you need to know about.
A recent warning from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that scammers are using electronic communications to notify online shoppers that their packages have not been delivered for one reason or another. That’s just the first part of the trap these crooks are laying.
Fake Package Delivery Scam: How to Spot It and Protect Yourself
What happens next is an attempt to solicit your credit card information or other personal data to “verify” your identity, supposedly to confirm that you’re the intended recipient of the (non-existent) package and expedite delivery.
This article will show you how the scam works and includes strategies from money expert Clark Howard and consumer advocacy agencies on how you can avoid becoming a victim.
The package delivery text or email ruse is basically a new twist on one of many “phishing” scams. They all involve tricking people into giving their personal information by pretending to be from a legitimate business.
Clark says phishing emails are especially effective because they can look so professional.
“The email may look completely valid, with all the appropriate logos and website links. They may even have a toll-free number to call with ‘customer service’ people answering the phones with the company name. But it’s all a big ruse!”
How the Scam Works
You get an email, text message or even a phone call from someone claiming to be from the U.S. Postal Service or another delivery service saying that they tried to deliver an item to you but were unsuccessful.
If you don’t remember ordering anything, the crook may try to convince you that the package is a gift that was sent to you, the BBB says.
During a phone call, it may be hard to tell whether this is all real or not because the scammer will usually sound very friendly and polite. But don’t be fooled!
To “reschedule your delivery,” the crook will ask you to confirm some personal information, which is a ploy to get you to reveal your credit card number, mailing address or other details.
Fake Package Delivery Scam: 3 Ways You Can Protect Yourself
Clark says you can protect yourself from package delivery scams and other phishing attempts by following this simple but foolproof method: Contact the company yourself.
1. Go to the Real Website or Call the Company
“Sign in, and go to your account,” Clark says. “If there is truly an urgent message for you from the company, you’ll see it there. Or get the actual customer support number from the true website, and call that number — not the bogus one provided in the email.”
2. Don’t Click Any Links
This is what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says: “If you get an unexpected text message about a package, don’t click on any links.”
Scammers may put viruses or malware inside links sent to your inbox or via text message. The FTC says no matter what, “Don’t use the information in the text message.”
3. Report the Scam
It may take a little time, but it’s always a good idea to report any scams you run across. Not only is it a protection for you, but it can help other potential victims.
If you get a phishing text, you can forward it to SPAM (7726), then report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
If you get a suspicious email that appears to come from one of the major delivery services, you can forward the email to report it.
Remember: don’t click on any links inside the email. And after you report it, delete it.
Never give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know.
Tired of those nuisance notifications on your phone? Here’s how to recognize and report spam text messages.