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Missed Delivery – The Scam That Never Arrives

By Ashleigh, K-Staff

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Technology is awesome! We can order our groceries on our phones, navigate a new city, attend a business meeting, and share streams of consciousness with a global network of readers. We can even get real-time alerts when packages are on their way, arriving, or delayed! But, fraudsters have also discovered this magic, and they’re deploying it in tricky ways that can put us at risk.

One scam that surged during the COVID-19 pandemic was the package delivery scam. The FCC recently warned about this scam, noting that the increase in package deliveries due to the pandemic brought about an increase in complaints about delivery notification scams.

How It Works

Package delivery scams usually begin with a text message or e-mail about a package that appears to come from a legitimate company like FedEx or UPS (posing fraudulently as a company to scam someone is called phishing. When it happens via phone or text, it’s called smishing). The notification generally includes a link, purportedly view a status update. These links actually trigger malicious malware downloads or lead to a website designed to get you to enter your personal and financial information.

Other scams feature “missed delivery” notifications, according to the BBB. These notifications are often physical notes attached to a mailbox or door that ask the target to call the attached number for next steps. Those next steps actually involve getting a hold of your personal and financial information.

How To Avoid Becoming A Victim

  1. Track your delivery. Go to the merchant and click to view tracking information there. Write down your tracking number and initiate your own checks. Don’t rely solely on text or email notifications.
  2. Don’t click the link! This tip comes directly from the United States Postal Service. The easiest way to avoid falling victim to this scam is to not ever click links sent to you via text or e-mail about deliveries. Check yourself through the merchant.
  3. Think before acting. A key component of scams is a sense of urgency. Thieves don’t want to give you time to think logically; they want action! If you receive a text or e-mail about a delivery, think to yourself: did I order anything? Am I expecting a package? Did I sign up for these kinds of notifications? Where else could I go for this information? A few minutes of calm thought could save you a lot of headaches.
  4. Don’t enter information on websites you don’t trust. If you did click on a link and are being asked for personal information, don’t enter it. This could be information as simple as your name or address and as consequential as your Social Security number or bank account information.
  5. Don’t pay. If you’re being asked for money to resolve a delivery issue, it’s very likely a scam. Deliveries are paid for up front by the sender. FedEx and UPS have stated they will never ask for payments through unsolicited text or e-mails, according to the FCC.
  6. Watch for errors. Scammers are often terrible spellers. If you receive a text or e-mail with strange syntax, misspelled words and typos, you’re looking at a scam.
  7. Don’t trust the number. It’s scary easy to spoof a phone number. I legitimate phone number is NOT a reason to trust.

So, what should you do if you suspect you’ve been scammed?

Report it! The best way to end these types of scams is to report them to the authorities. The FCC and other organizations work hard to find these criminals and close them down. You can help by reporting suspected scam texts.

If your accounts or card information could be compromised, let your financial institutions know right away to limit potential damage.  

Photo credit: FCC.gov

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