How to Avoid Mail Scams this Holiday Season
Although the holiday season is celebrated as a time of peace on earth and goodwill toward men, scammers have honed in on this period to commit mail and delivery fraud. During the holidays, scammers are counting on consumers being too busy to take precautions in protecting their personal information– and they’re often right.
With the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General receiving nearly 340,000 complaints of mail fraud and mail theft between March 2020 and February 2021, it’s no surprise that mail fraud has been making headlines. So, what scams should you be watching out for?
Change of Address Scams
It’s surprisingly easy for a scammer to complete a fraudulent change of address (COA) form in your name. All they need is your full name, current mailing address, and a forged signature). With this info, the scammer can arrange to have your mail rerouted, allowing them to intercept gift cards, presents, and other purchases. Alternatively, the scammer may gather personal details from your incoming mail to commit identity theft, including healthcare fraud or benefits fraud.
It’s a low-tech scam, but effective. During a season with more mail activity than normal, “porch pirates” may opt to steal packages left on your doorstep. Most delivery services will send an email or text confirmation when the package is delivered, so make sure that you or a trusted neighbor bring it inside immediately.
The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) recently reported a new scam in which you receive a package containing products you did not order. This is a sign that your name and mail address may have been illegally used by a third-party seller to spoof a “verified purchase” and write a positive review for the product. Fraudsters consider a few giveaways a reasonable price to pay when the positive reviews may generate significantly more sales.
Although this may seem like a victimless crime, it indicates that your personal information has been compromised. Beware of follow up calls that could lure you into a scam. Do not pay for the item or spend any money to return it.
Fake Delivery Notifications
If you receive an email or text regarding a package delivery that you weren’t expecting, be wary. It’s entirely possible that a friend or family member wanted to surprise you with a gift, but it may also be a phishing scam. If the message includes a link, do not click on it. This could expose you to malware, or it could redirect you to a form the scammer has set up to steal personal details. Instead, reach out directly to the delivery company to confirm that you received a package.
If you’re given a phone number to call for more information, don’t use it. The caller could be a scammer posing as a customer service representative, hoping to steal your credit card information by asking you to pay additional tax or a “delivery fee.” Instead, reach out to the company’s customer support team directly through their website or app.
If you find yourself the victim of mail fraud, reach out to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the FTC to report the crime.
With so many scams to side-step, the holiday season can be daunting. Fortunately, AAA Identity Champion is here to help, with services like change of address monitoring and identity restoration support. Take a look at our plans to see which one can offer you the most peace of mind during the busy holiday season and beyond.