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Everyone loves a surprise package, and scammers are taking the excitement out of that experience by using bogus packages as a cover for a nefarious scam that tricks victims into sharing personal information.
Here’s all you need to know about the pending package scam:
How the scam plays out
In the pending package scam, the victim receives a text message from a contact who is an alleged mail carrier or represents a package-delivery service. The contact tells them that they were unable to deliver a package to the victim’s home. The victim is asked to reply to confirm their identity; however, as soon as they engage with the scammer, they are asked to share personal information or credit card details for scheduling delivery. This, of course, places the victim at risk for identity theft.
There are two primary red flags that can warn you about the pending package scam.
First, the original text or email will generally not inform the victim of the identity of the company they represent. The scammer will only claim to be an employee of a mail or package-delivery service, but will not verify if they work for UPS, FedEx or another legitimate organization.
Second, the scammers don’t always check if the victim actually has a package in transit. They’ll either assume the victim has recently ordered something online or they’ll claim a friend or family member has sent a surprise gift. If you know that neither of these is true, you can be on the alert for a possible scam.
Don’t get scammed!
Take these precautions to avoid being the next victim of a pending package scam:
- Be wary of unsolicited communications. Your mail carrier and package delivery services will never contact you via text message. If a package cannot be delivered for any reason, they will usually leave a note on the door.
- Track all incoming packages. After placing an order for an item, record the tracking number for the package so you can easily verify its whereabouts. This way, you can quickly confirm the authenticity of any suspicious texts, emails or phone calls about your package.
- Never share personal information with an unverified contact. Be super-wary when asked to share sensitive information via text. If you suspect fraud, end the conversation immediately and do not engage further.
- Never click on links in unsolicited text messages. Links in text messages can download malware onto your computer or device.
If you’ve been targeted
If you believe you’ve been targeted by a pending package scam, it’s important not to engage with the scammer. Delete any suspicious text messages and block the number of the contact. You can also report the scam at FTC.gov.