With the holiday season ramping up, it's getting easier and easier to forget about the various packages you ordered for friends and family, or even yourself!
Has the gaming console for your daughter arrived?
Is the box of essential oils going to make it in time for your sister?
What about the personalized socks for your best friend? The list goes on.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding consumers to be wary of delivery scams and make sure thieves don’t steal your joy, your identity, or your money.
How the scam works
The first scam to look out for are phishing texts or emails that pose as official notices from delivery companies.
These either contain a "tracking link" or a message that the shipper is having difficulty delivering a package to you, or most recently, a link to update delivery preferences. Clicking the link either takes you to a form that asks for personal information, or to a site that downloads malware onto your computer.
Another version of a delivery scam involves fake “missed delivery” tags. Scammers place a note on your door that claims they are having challenges delivering a package to you. They ask you to call a phone number to reschedule your delivery, but it’s really a ruse to get your personal information.
Separate fake versus legitimate delivery notifications by carefully examining if an email, text message or paper notice are authentic. Have you received a message from this carrier before? Are they using the same text message or email style as before? Review the email address and urls as well. Avoid clicking links; instead go to the delivery carrier's website directly to use their tracking tools.
Phishing attempts in Vancouver
In February 2021, a Vancouver woman received a text message stating her full name and leading her to a link to confirm the delivery of her package.
The message said: "Your [package] is held back in the distribution center and we will need your credit card information."
After pressing the link, she quickly found out a payment of $3 was required, even though she already paid a previous delivery fee for her item. Recognizing a potential scam, she quickly deleted the message.
On another instance in October 2021, a Vancouver man received a call claiming to be from Canada Post. The caller had his name, number, postal code, and claimed they were just missing his actual home address to deliver his package. He was taken aback with their amount of info, so he provided his home address. After hanging up, he realized that he hadn’t ordered a package in the first place.
This is how easy it is for a scammer to garner even more personal information from you.
From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 6,364 reports of phishing, in which 1,538 people were victimized.
“Beyond phishing attempts, package theft is also rampant leading up to the holidays,” said Simone Lis, President and CEO, BBB serving Mainland BC.
“Even when you are doing everything you can to avoid falling prey to scammers, some Grinches will go so far as grabbing parcels from your doorstep and your apartment complex lobby.”
Five ways to avoid delivery scams:
- Request a signature
Chances are this feature may come with a price tag, but it may be worth the extra fee. Requesting a signature means that a delivery service won’t be able to drop a package on your doorstep unless someone is around to sign for it.
- Open your delivery upon receipt to check for damage or signs of tampering
Contact the seller immediately if you believe something is wrong with the shipment or if it’s not what you ordered. Also, be sure to review the seller’s return policy for damaged or unwanted items.
- Watch out for texts, calls or emails about a missed delivery
Legitimate delivery services usually leave a “missed delivery” notice on your door. If you receive a missed delivery notice, examine the form carefully to make sure it is authentic and only then follow their instructions. Keep track of what you’ve ordered so you have a better idea of what is coming and when. Don't click on any links; go to the delivery carrier's website directly, or log in and use the retailer's tracking tools.
- Take precautions to ensure a safe delivery
If you are having a valuable or fragile item delivered to your home, consider purchasing shipping insurance. In addition, always get tracking numbers for your purchases and check the shipping progress periodically.
- Don’t leave packages sitting on your doorstep
Packages left sitting outside are particularly vulnerable to theft. To ensure safe delivery, have your package delivered to your workplace, or to a trusted friend or neighbor who will be home to accept delivery. Some delivery companies now have lockers where your packages can securely wait for you to pick them up using a one-time code to open the locker.