Package delivery scams are yet one more way that thieves can steal your identity and use it to make purchases and potentially commit other crimes in your name.
Especially today, when more and more people are doing more and more shopping online and receiving more and more deliveries at their home, package delivery scams can be all the more pervasive and insidious.
This makes knowing how to identify and protect yourself from package delivery scams more important now than ever.
What Are Package Delivery Scams & How Do They Work?
Also known as ordering/shipping scams, package delivery scams are attempts to get you to unwittingly provide confidential personal and financial information under the guise of confirming or updating information regarding an order you supposedly made or to steal that information without your knowledge or awareness.
More on both of these types of package delivery scams are described in greater detail below.
Regardless of which type of package delivery scam scammers are perpetrating, they will often use “spoofing” tactics to make their emails look like they came from authentic retailers at which you may already shop, like Walmart, eBay or Amazon.
Oftentimes, these spoof emails will even intersperse legitimate orders of yours with the fake order about which they are inquiring.
Types of Package Delivery Scams
Package delivery scams come in several different guises, including as texts and emails.
Some may simply ask you to confirm or update information, thereby getting you to voluntarily give them the information they seek, while others may trigger the download and installation of malware, thereby setting themselves up to steal that information.
Order Confirmation Requests
When asked to confirm or update information relating to an order, clicking the provided link will typically lead you to a spoof website that looks like the official site of the retailer the scammer is pretending to be.
You may be asked to enter missing information into a shipping form or correct purposely-incorrect information, or you may be asked to fill out a customer satisfaction form followed by a free-gift offer that you need to provide delivery information and other personal information in order to redeem or have delivered to you.
While many package delivery scam emails and texts purport to request the confirmation or update of certain information prior to delivery.
Others disguise themselves as “delivery failure notifications” claiming an attempt to deliver your package was already made, but failed for one reason or other, such as by being delivered to the wrong address.
Package Slip Downloads
Still another distinction among package delivery scams is whether the correspondence (email or text) asks you to click a link or download an attachment containing a package slip to print out and take to your local post office for pickup of your order.
In both cases, clicking the link or attempting to download and print the package slip will trigger malware to download and install itself onto your phone or computer.
Depending on the type of malware, this can then lead to the scammer taking such actions as:
- Locking your computer up pending payment of a ransom – Using ransomware
- Tracking and monitoring your actions, including passwords and credit card numbers – Using keyloggers and other spyware
- Simply crashing your system – Using viruses
Red Flags to Look Out For
If you receive any email or text asking you to confirm an order you don’t remember making, proceed with caution.
Do not click any link in that email until you follow the tips in the next section below.
Key questions to ask yourself when you receive a text or email asking you to confirm or update information or download a form to claim your package via in-person pickup include:
- Did I recently place an order?
- Did I recently send out a package to anyone?
- Did I sign up for text or email notifications?
Other signs of potential spoof emails or texts include:
- Anonymous Addressee – If the correspondence addresses you as Customer or any other way than by your actual name, it may be a scam. An official correspondence from a retailer regarding an actual order you placed will address you by the name you provided when you placed the order.
- Poor Grammar – Reputable retailers send notices with proper English and proofread them carefully for spelling and grammatical errors. If you read a notice with poor or improper spelling or grammar, it may be a scam. One common grammatical error that’s usually a dead giveaway of this type of scam is a request to “re-confirm” or “reconfirm” information, neither of which are actual words.
Tips on How to Protect Your Information
Anytime you receive an email asking you to click a link, hover your cursor over the link without clicking it.
In the case of a text, press and hold the link rather than tapping it. In both cases, this will reveal more information about the source or destination of the link in a pop-up window.
Read this information to see if the link is to the purported sending company’s official website. If not, do not click it.
Even if the link looks like it may have come from the source from which it claims to have come, you can take the additional precaution of browsing directly to the supposed sender’s website by typing it into your browser bar or looking it up in Google.
Once on the website’s homepage, log in to your customer account to provide whatever confirmations the company may need.
Summary & Specific Resources
If you believe you may have been the victim of a package delivery scam or you’re concerned that an email or text you received may be from such a scammer, you can report it to:
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – More info here: consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-report-spam-text-messages
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – More info here: fbi.gov/scams-and-safety
If you have a question about a delivery purportedly coming through the US Postal Service, you can call the USPS to inquire about it online at usps.com or over the phone by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS.
Likewise you can contact UPS, FedEx or other delivery service directly to inquire about an alleged delivery to you coming through their service.