Scammers Still Targeting Unsuspecting Consumers With Fake Missed Package Delivery Notices
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Scammers Still Targeting Unsuspecting Consumers With Fake Missed Package Delivery Notices

An easy way to recognize that these notices are not legitimate is the lack of any specific information, such as the sender, the delivery service name, or even the recipient's name

January 17, 2020

If you find a notice in your mailbox or on your front door saying you missed a delivery, would you think twice? If you're like most people, you'll call the number on the notice. But that could be a costly mistake. Scammers use these fake notices to steal your money and personal information or to get you to purchase things you don't want, such as recurring subscriptions for future product deliveries.

Just a way to make contact

While it may look legitimate with just a glance, these fake delivery notices sometimes raise an eyebrow or two. But many people call the phone numbers on the notices anyway. Unfortunately, the fake delivery notice is just a way for a scammer or unscrupulous business operator to establish contact with you. Once you're on the phone, the sales pitch begins. Many people hang up or polite say that they aren't interested. But others get roped in by the pitch, which may or may not involve additional lies or deception in an effort to get your money or personal information.

signing you up for recurring charges

There isn't an easy way to know if you're dealing with a scammer who wants to steal your money and sensitive personal information or a business that simply isn't playing by the rules. In any case, many people who call the phone number on these deceptive notices often find that the 'missed delivery' doesn't really exist. What, then, did you miss? You didn't really miss anything. But the call takers will often say that they wanted to send you a free sample or product of some kind. And it can be for just about anything, including water heater maintenance plans or recurring subscriptions for cleaning supplies. But that's where the trouble starts.

They really know nothing about you

These missed delivery notices look as if they are intended just for you, but they're not. And it doesn't matter that they have a reference number for you to give when you call. Those reference numbers are usually the same on each notice and may correspond to a particular offer the scammers are looking to push. But in any case, the people on the other end of the call have no idea who you are. You can give the call taker a fake name, fake address, and nonexistent zip code. After a brief hold, the call taker is able to find you in the system.

Warning Signs of scams

First and foremost, trust your gut. If something doesn't look or sound right, there's probably something wrong. So when spotting these (and other) scams, look out for these warning signs:

  • You aren't expecting a delivery but receive a vague missed delivery notice. If you miss a delivery where you need to be present, you probably already know ahead of time and are expecting it.
  • Your name on a mailed notice is typed, not handwritten, and most likely has a mailing barcode above or below the address block.
  • The notice comes on a mailpiece with printed postage (not a traditional stamp) that says "Postage Paid," "Presort Standard," or similar. These types of mailings can only be sent when the mailer is sending large quantities in bulk. Here are some samples.
  • There's no information about the sender, the delivery service, or type of delivery. In fact, there's really no specific information at all.
  • There is no identifying information about you on a notice left at your door, such as your name.
  • The reference or tracking number, if any, is very short. This information may also appear to be handwritten when everything else, including your name, is typed.
  • Your neighbors have what appears to be the same notice at their front doors, suggesting someone was walking through the neighborhood distributing them in bulk quantities.
  • A notice is left at the door and no one attempted to make contact with you. So if you are home and no one knocked or rang the doorbell or if you see no attempt to reach you on a security camera, it's not a real delivery attempt.
  • If you call a number on these notices and you are asked first for your name and address as opposed to the reference or tracking number, be wary. Most delivery companies want the tracking or reference number first since it's the easiest and most accurate way to find you.

Legitimate Notices

Any legitimate notice from a retailer or delivery service should clearly state the name of that service (UPS, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service, the courier company, etc.), where the delivery is from, the type of package being delivered, and what steps should be taken next by the recipient. Unless the delivery is coming by a courier or the delivery driver is too lazy to write it out, these notices almost always include a tracking number that can be entered online for more details. If you have a tracking number but don't know where to search for it, you can always enter the tracking number into a Google search. Google is smart enough to break down the tracking number and give you the most likely service or services that were used for the delivery. The next time you get a package, enter the tracking number into a Google search.

Do Not Respond

If you receive a missed delivery notice and you're pretty sure it's not legitimate, don't respond in any way. When you interact with scammers, you open the door to losing money and personal information. Even worse, the scammers can harvest your phone number from the caller ID and either use it for future scams or sell it to other scammers.

Do Not Pay Anything

With many of these missed delivery scams, the goal is usually to get you to sign up for a recurring subscription of some kind. And this can happen with or without your permission. If you provide a credit card for identity verification, a modest shipping fee, etc., you will almost certainly see strange charges showing up on your statements in coming months. Sometimes you'll even receive merchandise of some kind sent with a tracking number, which is one way scammers challenge any chargeback you file with your credit card company. Then it's your word against theirs when you try to prove you didn't sign up for something.

Contact directly

If you are expecting a delivery and you doubt the legitimacy of a notice you receive in the mail or find on your door, contact that business, organization, or person directly using a trusted phone number. Don't call the number on the notice. You can then inquire whether the notice you received pertains to the shipment you are expecting. But if the notice you received lacks specific information, you're probably dealing with some kind of scam.