The holidays are here, which means two things: package deliveries are on the rise and scammers are taking advantage.
So if you get an unexpected text message from FedEx, UPS or the Postal Service telling you about an unclaimed package — and a link to claim it — do NOT take the bait.
We’re here to help you spot and avoid those pesky parcel tracking scams.
What is a package delivery scam?
A package delivery scam happens when you get an unsolicited text message about an unclaimed delivery, with a malicious link to supposedly “claim” the package that doesn’t actually exist. The FTC has a reported a spike in these scam texts, which sometimes include a fake tracking number and typically appear to come from a company you already know and trust — like Fedex, UPS, Amazon or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Fake shipping texts can contain messages like this:
- You have an undelivered package that you can pick up, once you confirm your personal information and card details.
- You have an undelivered package that won’t ship until you pay an additional fee.
- You have a chance to win a free gift card or a free item, once you follow a web link, provide personal information, and pay for shipping.
Fake website: How the scam works
With these scams, fraudsters will link to a deceptive website that looks like an official delivery tracking site. They may indicate that a package is waiting at a warehouse, and once you answer a few questions, they’ll release the package (which doesn’t exist). They might even give you a fake tracking number in the text message, and ask you to plug in the number to receive more information.
But ultimately, at some point — usually at the end of the questionnaire — they will ask for personal or payment information. Once you input that, you’ve given the scammer everything they need to steal from you.
How to avoid a fake shipping scam
- DO ask yourself these questions. Was I expecting a package delivery? Did I send a package to someone? Did I ask for text notifications?
- DON’T click on any suspicious links. If you receive an unexpected text message, don’t click on a link. Even if it provides seemingly authentic tracking and delivery information.
- DON’T respond to unsolicited texts. Immediately delete the message, and never respond. If you’re unsure about the message, look up and contact the company directly (don’t use the info in the text message).
- DON’T pay additional money to get a package delivered. Know that legit companies won’t contact you “out of the blue” to request additional fees for shipping or delivery.
- DO look for a missed delivery notice. Legitimate delivery services will usually leave a physical “missed delivery” notice on your front door or doorstep.
- DO report fraud when you see it. If you think you’ve spotted a scam, contact the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, which helps law enforcement partners gain important information about scams.