We all do it. A product comes across our television or social media and we think: I could order this online and it will be here in a day or two. It’s just a click away.
While we may avoid those digital come-ons most of the time, every once in a while that impulse-shopping gene strikes and wham! You bite. Online shopping has skyrocketed over the past decade, and sometimes you might not even remember you or your spouse ordered something! But the Better Business Bureau warns that scammers, never missing a beat, will take advantage of our momentary weaknesses.
How the scam works
Someone calls or emails claiming to be your mail carrier or a parcel delivery service and says they were unable to deliver a package to your home. If you don’t remember ordering anything for delivery, the caller may try to convince you the package is a gift from a friend or relative. The caller may sound friendly and professional, making the scam harder to spot. The email messages also look legitimate – containing official logos and using professional language.
This is the point where BBB sees scammers getting down and dirty. The caller will ask you to verify personal information or give them your credit card information to reschedule the delivery. Email messages may ask you to click on a tracking link for your mystery package. When you click, you may download malware onto your computer, giving con artists access to personal information and passwords. No matter the method of contact, the package doesn’t exist. Sharing your personal information puts you at risk for identity theft.
Tips to avoid package delivery scams
Be wary of unsolicited communications. Package delivery companies will never contact you unsolicited via telephone call. Instead, if a package cannot be delivered, they usually will leave a note on your door. They may follow up with an email, but most official communications will be within your secure online account.
Track your packages. Always keep track of your online purchases and expected deliveries. Request tracking numbers so you will know when each package is due to arrive. When you know what you are expecting, it will be harder for a scammer to fool you with the claim of a fake package delivery.
Never give your personal information to strangers. Even when the caller is friendly, always use caution when asked for personal information. You can always hang up, look up the official customer service number and directly contact the company to confirm its request. Whenever possible, use the customer service contact information or chat function within your account at the company.
Never click on links in unsolicited emails. Links in emails can download malware onto your computer. Don’t click links in emails from people you don’t know or from companies that you have not asked to be contacted by. Be wary of official-looking email; popular brands can easily be spoofed.
For More Information
To learn more about shipping fraud, see FedEx’s website and UPS’s online resource center. For more tips on how to protect yourself from scams, go to BBB.org/ScamTips. If you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam like this one, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others protect themselves from similar cons.
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