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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Avoid package delivery, porch pirate scams

By Kirstin Davis Marketplace Director

Millions of holiday packages will be landing on porches and doorsteps all over the world in the following weeks. Package delivery fraud has evolved in recent years, with consumers losing money and personal information as a result of the schemes. Criminals know some very expensive gifts are delivered to people’s doorsteps, and they use a variety of methods to take advantage of online commerce and unattended packages.

Fortunately, consumers can protect themselves from delivery fraud by planning ahead and looking for red flags, such as a recently opened seller’s account with very few reviews.

You have probably seen the common practice of thieves following a delivery truck to look for drop-offs and stealing packages from people’s doorsteps or apartment building lobbies.

By far the most common scheme involves fake emails that appear to come from a delivery company. The notice tells recipients that they missed a delivery and instructs them to click on a link or open an attachment to arrange for a subsequent delivery or pickup. The links and attachments will release a virus into the victims’ computers, putting them at risk of subsequent fraud or identity theft.

The Better Business Bureau has some advice to avoid becoming the victim of delivery scams:

Check the seller’s reputation. Buy from established sellers with positive consumer reviews.

Ignore the email. A delivery company will never send notice of a missed delivery by email. Instead, the driver will leave a tag on the door with a telephone number to call to arrange another delivery.

Check door tags carefully. Some fake look-alike tags are left on people’s doors with a telephone number that is not associated with the transportation company. If you call the number, you will be asked for personal or financial information.

Have packages delivered to work. If you know you cannot be at home to receive a package, have it delivered to your office, a relative, neighbor or friend so that it does not sit in an area where it can easily be stolen.

Delivery companies, law enforcement agencies and sellers’ websites are aware of these scams and working on ways to prevent delivery fraud. In the meantime, consumers can protect themselves by carefully reviewing all documents and carefully combing through bank and credit card statements to look for unusual charges.

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