The e-commerce industry is booming. Consumers are shopping online now more than ever, which means they get products shipped to their doors instead of purchasing them in person. Shipping is more convenient, but it’s also more risky.
Scammers see online purchases as an opportunity to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting shoppers. They often pose as fake shipping companies and convince consumers to hand over cash, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card information. While shipping scams are increasingly common, they’re easy to spot if you know the warning signs to look for.
Here’s a brief overview of common shipping scams and how to avoid them.
4 Types of Shipping Scams to Watch Out For
Like other types of scams, shipping scams have grown more sophisticated over the years. Scammers are getting better at creating legitimate-sounding requests for consumers’ personal and financial information. New types of scams are always cropping up, each one more convincing than the last. Buyers need to know which scams are out there so that they can adequately avoid them.
Here are four of the most common shipping scams to watch out for.
- Requests for large amounts of money: Some shoppers have received a call, email, or text from someone asking them to ship money via cash, check, or gift card. The scammer will claim to be a customer service representative or a family member in desperate need of financial help. They steal money by asking consumers to mail large sums quickly. Don’t reply to these scammers—verify with family members directly, and remember that shipping companies will never approach you out of the blue like this.
- Calls from phony IRS agents: Consumers have also received calls from scammers claiming to be IRS agents. These scammers might say you didn’t file your taxes correctly (or at all) and need to send additional money via mailed cash or check. They convince consumers to hand over sensitive information by threatening legal action if they don’t comply within a certain timeframe. The IRS will never send pre-recorded messages, nor do they make urgent requests for cash or gift cards.
- Phishing texts or emails: Phishing is when a scammer pretends to work at a reputable shipping company and asks for sensitive information via text or email. In some cases, the scammer will prompt you to click on a link and update your delivery address or payment information. Never click these links or release sensitive information, even if you’re expecting a package from a very similar company. If you’re ever in doubt, contact the trusted shipping company directly for package or payment updates.
- Shipping companies that sound real: Scammers often approach unsuspecting consumers under the guise of a fake shipping company. The danger is that everything about the fake company seems real—their name, their website, their customer service department, etc. Unfortunately, many shoppers don’t realize it’s a scam until after their money has been stolen and the scammers disappear without a trace. Always check the legitimacy of a shipping company before releasing bank account or credit card information.
Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Scams
Scammers have gotten pretty sneaky in the shipping industry, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to their games. Well-informed buyers can easily sidestep scam attempts and safeguard their personal information against theft. Luckily, there are many telltale signs that a scammer is afoot, and these signs are fairly easy to spot.
Here’s how you can protect yourself against shipping scams.
- Verify the person’s identity: Make sure the person you’re speaking with is who they say they are. Search their name online to see if they actually work for a reputable shipping company. If you’re still not sure, call the official customer service number of your trusted shipping company to ask if that person works there.
- Research the shipping company in question: Before complying with a potential scammer, do some research on the shipping company they claim to be from. See if the company has a website, and if it does, check for customer reviews and certificates from legitimate organizations. If any of these are missing, it’s best to ignore their texts or phone calls.
- Use trusted shipping companies: Only conduct business with shipping companies that have proven their legitimacy. Send and receive mail through shipping companies you’ve used in the past. If you’re considering a new company, see what others have to say about it first. Stick with who you can trust—and don’t engage with those you can’t.
- Don’t hand out sensitive information: Only a scammer would send urgent messages asking for cash, gift cards, your social security number, or your bank account information. Legitimate shipping companies have protocols in place, and they don’t involve sending texts or emails out of the blue. Don’t give anyone your information, especially if you’re not expecting a package.
- Look for spelling and grammatical errors: While not a hard-and-fast rule, scam attempts are often littered with grammatical errors or unusual stylistic choices. These include typos, misspellings, excessive capitalization, and liberal use of exclamation points. If the scammer claims to be from a reputable shipping company, they might send a link that looks like the company’s real website address, but it is misspelled or slightly altered. Never click suspicious links and don’t reply to messages that sound unprofessional.
- Report the scammer to local authorities: If you notice anything suspicious, report the alleged scam to your local police department and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center right away. By reporting scam attempts, you protect not only yourself but other consumers, as well. The authorities can shut down a scammer’s operations so they can’t steal from anyone else.
Trust the Reputable Shipping Experts at PostNet
In a world that’s rampant with scammers, it can be hard to know which shipping companies are trustworthy and which ones are not. There’s one name you can always trust, and that’s PostNet. We help customers securely ship packages while keeping their personal information safe and sound. Reach out today to learn more about our services!