How to spot a delivery notification scam

Nowadays, when ordering a package online, many of us are asked to put into the website a telephone number where we can be contacted should there be a problem with delivering the order.

In addition, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have been unable to visit physical stores and so, especially around the holiday season, are expecting more packages than we are perhaps used to. Unfortunately, scammers also know this and are increasingly using text messages concerning delivery updates to target their victims.

The phenomenon has become such a problem that delivery companies like FedEx are having to warn their customers to be extra vigilant about text messages they receive trying to impersonate them.

You may have already received a delivery scam notification and know roughly what they look like but, if not, here is an example below.

The aim of sending out these messages is to attempt to extract your personal and financial information. Customers are typically tricked into clicking on links that direct them to seemingly genuine websites requesting personal and financial information such as their address, date of birth, password or bank details.

As open rates for SMS near 98%, compared to 20% for email, scammers use text messages as they are more likely to be read. 

Red flags to watch out for

There are a few key features of these text messages that might signal it’s a delivery notification scam.

  • An account warning. Usually, with a delivery notification scam the fraudster tries to convince you there’s a problem with an order or your account to get your attention.
  • A call to action – for example “review an unauthorised transaction on your account here”, or “your payment details for your recent order were declined, update them now”. Even something simple like “send STOP” has value for a fraudster as it lets them know the mobile number is active.
  • An unknown mobile number. Established delivery companies will often have their own mobile details that automatically show the contact as a company name rather than a mobile number. 
  • Texts containing links. Links can be particularly dangerous as they can direct you to a fake website maintained by criminals or put malware on your phone. Links shortened with ‘bitly’ or ‘bit’ should be viewed with even more caution as you can’t see where the full link might take you.

There are some basic things to remember that can help you avoid becoming a victim of a delivery scam:

  1. Never respond to messages that directly ask you for personal information or financial details.
  1. Don’t click on any links that you cannot guarantee are from the delivery company. If you want to check if the problem with your delivery is real, go to the company’s website via your browser and investigate it from there.
  1. Do not call any numbers sent in a text message to verify your financial information. Instead, use the phone number on the back of your credit card, or your bank’s phone number, who can look into the problems on your behalf.
  1. Where possible, use anti-virus and anti-spyware software to flag any suspicious messages or websites.

Once you have detected the delivery scam, it is a good idea to block the phone number to prevent future messages. 

If you have any questions, or other technology queries, leave a comment below or tweet @techtroublesho1.

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