USPS Package Delivery Scams. How to Spot it and avoid it.
The coronavirus pandemic has transformed how people sell and shop, with an increasing trend in online shopping. More online purchases mean increased package deliveries.
With this rise in door-to-door deliveries, there has been an increase in complaints filed at the FCC about delivery notification scam texts and calls.
Once again, this shows that scammers are keeping up with the trend and aligning their tactics to steal your identity and access sensitive financial or personal information. Learn more about the USPS package delivery scams, how to identify and avoid them in this article.
What is a mail delivery fraud?
This is a planned scheme aimed at getting money or valuable thing from you by presenting products, services, gifts, discounts, or investment opportunities that do not exist. Typically, mail delivery fraud looks more or less legitimate, so you should be careful.
A common trick is a fake delivery notification, a fraud that has increased during the rise of online or stay-at-home shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic. You will receive a text message or email claiming to come from U.S postal services or one of the giant delivery companies like UPS and FedEx.
The information may want you to confirm some orders or reschedule another delivery due to unsuccessful drop-off attempts. Clicking these links will direct you to a site where it is purported to work out things.
Doubtlessly, this is a scam. The fraudster assumes that you may have ordered a lot of things online and you're unable to keep track of records of purchases or that you may think their offer is a gift from a friend.
The link will direct to a false site where you'll be asked for personal or financial details, which they will use for purposes of identity theft. Also, the website may act as a Launchpad for computer malware that intercepts sensitive data from the device you are using.
Additionally, other forms of USPS package delivery scams ploy may charge you exorbitant amounts of money just by calling back these numbers. Mostly, the false delivery notification may call back using a number having an area code of 809 or a ten-digit international number.
Calling back numbers with an 809 area code or an unknown 10-digit international number can lead to high connection charges or expensive per minute phone call charges.
Common mail delivery fraud tricks you should be aware of.
Mail scammers usually depend on common tricks, which you have probably come across several times. The following section outlines common mail fraud tricks you need to be on the lookout for.
- Charity sweepstakes and “free” rewards.
This scheme is among the common mail frauds available. A lot of people receive mail notifications that they’ve won certain prizes. Usually, it is sent in the form of a postcard that says your award is among the "valuable" ones, such as smart TVs, a new car, or a $1000 check.
In this trick, if you contacted the company to claim the prize, you’ll be required to pay a certain amount of money as processing or insurance fees and insist that you share your credit card details.
When you get this type of engagement, it is advisable not to proceed. Scammers may make thousands of money from unauthorized transactions with your account.
- Free vacation or getaway trip.
Messages such as "Congratulations! You have been selected for a free vacation as our esteemed customer" may look appealing. While they might look good to be true, there is always bait in such messages.
For instance, you'll discover that to be eligible, you have to pay a certain amount for membership or service charges.
- An email address resembling government institutions.
Another ploy that scammers use is sending a brown envelope in your mailbox that always looks official. From the organization's name, the return address, or the seal used is made in such a way to resemble the government's issue.
In all likelihood, such emails are confusing, deceptive, and, most of the time, illegal. These government look-alike mails often have charity solicitations or donation requests towards a non-existing political cause.
Legally, these mails are currently not allowed unless;
- The organization has government approval, connection, or endorsement.
- The contained materials in the publication are requested or purchased by the person addressing it.
- The mail bears a disclaiming notice to such approvals, connection, or endorsement.
- Foreign lotteries.
Regularly, you hear the lotto advert on the airwaves, you get a betting craze, and before you know it, there is an email in your inbox telling you to participate in a lottery from another country. This ploy requires that you use or a conventional mail-order purchase system.
When you get such emails, please don't fall for them. They are probably a scam. Here are the reasons;
- Federal states do not allow mailing payment for purchases of tickets, shares, or an opportunity in foreign lotteries. Apart from state-owned and run lotteries, the law prohibits sending lottery materials via mails.
- It is likely a scam. While not all foreign lottery emails sent from foreign nations are fake ones, they are not really from foreign agencies. These are scammers who are after taking your money by offering you nothing.
Types of USPS mail delivery scams and how to avoid them.
This section contains information about the four major types of attacks fraudsters use and tips to keep you safe.
1. Phishing emails.
Scammers usually use phishing emails to execute USPS package delivery scams. They distribute these emails randomly, hoping to get people expecting deliveries from major delivery companies like FedEx or UPS.
Since there is a high number of people doing online shopping, fraudsters will definitely find such people. They will claim to be from an online store or delivery company and claim there is an issue with your order, and you are required to get in touch through a link to solve the problem.
These phishing emails act as a Launchpad of malware; the link redirects to fake or malicious websites that convince you to provide sensitive personal details.
Tips to avoid phishing emails.
You can identify a phishing email if it has the following telltale signs, uses poor grammar and spelling, has an overrated urgency requirement, and comes from a fake domain. Some phishing emails are convincing, so do not over-confident about your ability to identify fake emails.
The best option is to avoid clicking on the link claiming about delivery issues you are not aware of. Instead, you need to get directly to the website of the delivery company you use regularly and confirm with them.
Either, you can log in to your area’s account and key in the tracking number to see the status of your package if at all you were expecting a delivery. If there is a problem, you’ll be able to identify it on the website.
2. Voice calls.
You may assume that scammers only con people over the phone, but they also apply voice calls and emails to lure people into believing they are legit delivery organizations calling with a delivery problem.
Targets of voice call attacks will either receive a call from the fraudster informing about a package delivery problem or a voicemail instructing them to call a particular number to resolve the issue.
These attacks are just ordinary voice phishing from a false employee attempting to get personal and important information from you and use it to exploit you.
Fortunately, the FCC has been on the frontline, warning consumers to be aware of these numbers from foreign countries having three digits codes to look like the domestic American numbers. Calling them may expose you to connection fees and high cost-per-minute tariff charges.
Here are the tips to keep you safe from voice call attacks from scammers.
If you get a call from a stranger informing you that there is a problem with your package delivery, thank them for their concern, tell them you can't hold the discussion now, and that you'll follow the matter personally.
However, if the caller refuses to accept your suggestions and insists that it’s only them who can help you, then hang up immediately. This is a clear indication you are dealing with a fraudster of the USPS package delivery scams.
Also, do not answer any number issued to you by fraudsters; they can easily register and respond to their false numbers. Additionally, never contact the callback number provided in the voicemail. Instead, reach out to the company's main contact center and inquire about your package's status using the tracking number.
3. Text messages.
Nowadays, USPS package delivery scams can be perpetrated via emails as well as text messages. Handle text messages informing you about an order or package delivery issue with care, especially if it requires that you click on a link.
Just like with emails, do not click any link that comes through a text or messenger apps. Try to avoid these messages as much as possible when they arrive. Confirm with the company for any problem with your package yourself.
Also, you can install the USPS app on your phone to receive mobile notifications about the status of your expected package. Luckily, with the new, improved security features in most mobile phones, installing apps is much more secure than it was in the past.
4. Phony missed delivery tags.
According to the reports by the Federal Communication Commission, fraudsters are applying physical tactics too. They go around leaving false "delivery tags" on consumers' doors. These tags carry a call number, which is also fake.
Suppose their targets call back the number on these tags. In that case, scammers take the opportunity to trick them into providing their personal data or paying fraudulent fees.
Also, in this form of attack, scammers may position themselves around the houses of their targets, wait for the delivery team to drop your package, and walk away with it without your knowledge.
Some will later call back using the address on the package demanding a fee so they can return it to you, while others will go with the package and never appear again.
Follow these steps to avoid this form of attack.
In this period of the covid-19 pandemic, the first thing to do if you've touched the tag is to wash your hands or sanitize-you don't know the status of whoever touched the label before.
And to deal with the threat, ensure you don't call back the number directly. Instead, apply the same procedures discussed herein on dealing with email, calls, and text messages, log in to the company's website and inquire about the issue personally if you were expecting a package delivery.
The FCC has reported several cases of USPS package delivery scams following the rise of online shopping during the covid-19 pandemic more than before.
While the agency has continuously warned its customers to avoid such attacks and always ensure they run their processes through the postal services, many people are still conned by the trend.
Be on the look for strange voice calls, text messages, or emails informing you of a failed package delivery and has an unusual sense of emergency. Be keen on grammar in emails and text messages and pronunciation in voice calls as most of these fraudsters are foreigners.
As a rule of thumb, always contact the U.S postal services or log into their website to confirm the issue yourself. Dismiss callers and texts with urgent help for a failed order or delivery.