Reghan Winkler: Tips for Avoiding Parcel Delivery Scams

According to any source I could find on the subject, last Monday was the busiest day of the year for shipping packages.

FedEx alone predicts it will deliver 100 million more packages this year between Black Friday and Christmas than in 2019 and 10% more than the record set for the 2020 season.

UPS, USPS and Amazon are also forecasting a similar explosion in shipments this year. ShipMatrix, a consulting firm that provides delivery information and data to retailers and shippers, estimates that global e-commerce will ship a staggering 3.4 billion packages this holiday season.

With all of these shipments, billions and billions of notifications to consumers regarding the delivery status of their packages. We are often notified when a package is dispatched, where it is in the delivery process, its estimated time of arrival, and when it actually arrived at our location. Multiply all of these notifications by 3.4 billion packets and there is a lot of room for confusion.

If there’s one thing scammers love, it’s confusion! As consumers, we can’t wait to know that our package will arrive on time. The crooks knowing this send fake phone calls and emails claiming to be a parcel delivery company which is unable to deliver a parcel to our home. Email messages often contain the official logos of the delivery services and always have a fake link to click for details.

Because consumers have become wiser and more wary of phone calls and emails, cunning scammers have added realistic text messages to their arsenals, masquerading as shipping companies such as Amazon, FedEx. and UPS. They even added the recipients’ first names to the texts, making the message more official, increasing the chances of the bogus link being opened.

During a phone call, you are often asked to verify personal information and provide your credit card number to reschedule delivery. If you receive an email or text link and click on it, you may be able to download malware that allows crooks to gain access to passwords and other personal information. Just be aware that no matter how you receive the message, the package in question simply does not exist.

It is especially important at this time of year to be aware of the increase in scams and to be constantly vigilant. Avoid parcel delivery scams by following the tips below.

• First of all, never click on links in unsolicited emails or texts. Instead, contact the carrier or retail company directly by obtaining contact information from their legitimate website or app.

• Beware of unsolicited phone calls. Parcel delivery companies hardly ever contact customers by phone. Use extreme caution if you are asked for personal information or if you receive suspicious instructions. To hang up! Look up the company’s official customer service number and, if possible, speak directly with a representative to verify the information.

• Systematically keep track of the expected delivery times and dates of your online purchases. Again, use the company’s official websites or mobile apps. Knowing the latest official tracking information, it is difficult for scammers to fool you with bogus package delivery claims.

With the Covid pandemic, online shopping is no longer the luxury it once was. It has become more and more of a necessity. Stay one step ahead of those scammers who want to ruin your vacation. Even the Grinch had a heart. The crooks certainly don’t.

Everyone at BBB wishes you happy holidays. Be careful! Thank you!

Reghan Winkler is executive director of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB can be found on the Internet at bbb.org/us/oh/lima.

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