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Scam alert: Don’t be fooled by a fake package delivery scam

Shopping experts estimate we’ll buy 60 to 70% of our presents online this year. Scammers, never missing a beat, are taking advantage of this to fool consumers into giving out their personal information with the fake package delivery scam.

How the scam works

A call, email or text from someone claiming to be a mail carrier or a parcel delivery service saying a package is on the way or that they were unable to deliver a package to your home or they just found a package belonging to you. If you don’t remember ordering anything that needs to be delivered, 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.

However, things get suspicious quickly. The caller will ask you to verify personal information or give them your credit card information to reschedule the delivery. Email or text messages may ask you to click on a tracking link for your mystery package. When you click, you may download malware onto your computer that gives con artists access to any 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.

How to avoid package delivery scams

Be wary of unsolicited communications. Package delivery companies will never contact customers unsolicited via telephone call or text. Instead, depending on the carrier and if the customer signed up for notifications, an email may be sent within a secure online account.

Track all packages. Keep track of online purchases and expected deliveries. Request tracking numbers in anticipation of when they’ll arrive. This makes it difficult for scammers to fool with the claim of a fake package delivery.

Never give personal information to strangers. Even when the caller is friendly, always use caution when asked for personal information. Hang up, look up the official customer service number, and directly contact the company to confirm their request. Whenever possible, use the customer service contact information or chat function within the account at the company.

Never click on links in unsolicited emails. Links in emails can download malware onto your device. Don’t click links in emails from people you don’t know or from companies you haven’t done business with or have asked to be contacted by. Be wary of official-looking email; popular brands can easily be spoofed.