Delivery In Depth

Sections on this page
  1. What Are Package Delivery Scams?
  2. Warning Signs of a Delivery Scam
  3. Most Common Package Delivery Scams
  4. How to Beat Package Delivery Scams
  5. Recovering from a Package Delivery Scam

The 2020 pandemic has changed the way consumers shop, with many Americans now spending more time buying all of their needs online—from groceries to apparel, home goods, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and luxury goods. Of course, with this new increase in online shopping comes a surge in package delivery scams.

In 2021, the FTC reported that the total losses from all types of scams in 2020 was more than $3.3 billion, up from $1.8 billion from the year before. Of these, online shopping was the second-most common category of fraud reported by consumers, elevated by a surge of reports in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Are Package Delivery Scams?

Delivery scams happen every day but are most common around the holidays when more packages are being shipped worldwide. According to the Better Business Bureau, many package delivery scams begin with communication regarding a delivery being sent to your address.

Oftentimes, scammers use these types of texts or emails to steal your money and personal information via phishing links or downloads.

Here's an example of how a delivery scam might work:

  • You receive an email from a well-known courier such as FedEx, UPS, or Amazon
  • The correspondence asks you to click a link to confirm a delivery, update your payment method, or handle a missed delivery
  • Once you click on the link, it will take you to a phishing site which requires you to enter sensitive information
  • After you've submitted your information, the scammers will have access to your accounts

In other delivery scams, you'll receive a call regarding a shipment that requires your attention. Typically, the scammers will say they need you to verify your account information or credit card number used for the purchase. Once you’ve given them this info, they’ll have your information and you won’t be able to get ahold of them again.

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Warning Signs of a Delivery Scam

The good news is, if you’re aware of the red flags of package delivery scams, you can potentially save yourself from being the victim of fraud.

Scammers count on their victims to make quick decisions and not ask questions. The first question you should ask yourself is if you actually ordered anything that requires you to deal with deliveries. If not, delete the email/text or hang up the phone immediately, it’s likely a scam.

Here are other red flags to look out for:

  • You receive an OTP (one-time password) from Amazon when you didn't request one.
  • You receive a confirmation that a delivery has been made when you haven't ordered anything.
  • You receive a package you never ordered.
  • You’re asked to pay a fee to have your package delivered (often sent with a false sense of urgency).
  • You receive suspicious notifications which include grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Links within the body of an email or text include misspelled or incorrect website addresses such as fed-ex.com (the correct site is fedex.com).
  • A buyer says they will provide the shipping label for you.
  • A buyer asks you to use their shipping account.

Most Common Package Delivery Scams

Package delivery scams come in all forms, but some of the most common ones to be on the lookout for include:

Brushing Scams

In a brushing scam, a person receives a package they have not ordered. There will be no return address, or it will just have the return address of the retailer. In this case, the scammer's intention is to create a "verified buyer" on an online store and then use that buyer's name and details to add a fake positive review about the product.

package delivery scams
Example of a brushing scam that occurred in 2020 when Americans began receiving seeds in the mail. (Source: Hacked.com)

PayPal Shipping Scams

There are a few varieties of PayPal shipping scams. In a PayPal package reroute scam, the scammer asks you to use their shipping label for a product they purchased from you. The scammer will then have the item shipped to a non-existent address, correct the address to their own, and claim they never received the item.

Phishing Shipping Scams

In a phishing shipping scam, the scammer will send an email that looks like it is from a verified courier service such as UPS, DHL, FedEx, or Amazon. The email will say that there has been an issue with an order and ask the recipient to click a link to correct or validate details. The link will point to a fake site that looks like the official site and is set up to steal any credentials you enter.

package delivery scams
To decide if it's a fake email, look at the sender's actual email address and review the message for any sketchy looking logos.

Amazon OTP Delivery Scam

In an Amazon OTP (one-time-password) scam, the scammer hacks your Amazon account, buys an expensive item, has it shipped to your address, and steals it when it is delivered. It is named an OTP delivery scam because the victim of the scam will receive OTP emails during the scam.

Local Pickup Scams

In an eBay local pickup scam, the scammer will buy an item from you on eBay and then send you an email asking to pick it up locally. The scammer will then pick up the item and, once they have it, file a claim that the item was never received and get a refund of the purchase price.

Example Message from Scammer

I live in the area so I can come pick the item up myself so you don't need to pay for shipping or go through the hassle of going to the post office. I can still pay shipping costs. I just need it as soon as possible since I'm leaving town and won't be home to accept the delivery.

How to Beat Package Delivery Scams

If you are dealing with a delivery and notice some of the red flags of a delivery scam mentioned above, don't worry, you can protect yourself and avoid falling victim to the scammer. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Always use your own shipping labels and a shipping company you trust when shipping your sales.
  • Don't accept a pre-paid label from a buyer.
  • Always confirm payments for products at the official site of your financial institution or PayPal.
  • Don't accept local pickups for eBay sales.
  • If a buyer paid through PayPal, only ship to the address on the invoice.
  • Always use unique, secure passwords for your internet accounts and change them frequently.
  • Don't click links in emails or texts that you aren't expecting.

Recovering from a Package Delivery Scam

If you have fallen victim to a delivery scam, there are a few things you can do to prevent the damage that scammers will do to your finances and information.

Report the Scam

The first thing you need to do is report the scam. Who you report it to depends on the type of delivery scam you are dealing with:

You can also report the scam to the shipping company involved via email:

Contact Your Financial Institution

You should also contact your bank or financial institution if you entered your bank account or credit card information on a fake site or paid the scammer. They can help you with any fraudulent activity on your account and hopefully credit it with the funds taken by the scammers.

While you're not guaranteed coverage, many credit cards today offer protection against scammers, ensuring you'll never lose any money through a scam like this.

Protect Your Equipment and Data

If you clicked a link in a phishing email or downloaded a file during the scam, you will need to make sure to protect your device and data.

  • Disconnect the affected device from the internet.
  • If you entered account credentials on a phishing site, change those passwords on another device.
  • Check your browser for extensions you didn't add, and if there are any, remove them.
  • Run antivirus software to remove any harmful software that may have been installed on the affected device.

Notify the Company That Sent the Item

If you had a product delivered to you that you never ordered, contact the company that sent the product via their online contact form or phone number.

Never use the contact information used on the correspondence (if any) that you received with the package.

Let them know what you received, that you didn't order it, and you think a scammer is behind it. As far as the item itself goes, you can keep it according to the FTC.

Scams Relating to Delivery

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PayPal Shipping Scams: Tips to Protect Your Money and Items
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PayPal Shipping Scams: Tips to Protect Your Money and Items

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FedEx Text Scam: Fake Delivery Alerts & Notifications

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Amazon Brushing Scam: Receiving Packages You Didn't Order
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Amazon Brushing Scam: Receiving Packages You Didn't Order

Received an Amazon package that you didn't order? Check your account—scammers could be posting fake reviews on your behalf.

Amazon OTP Delivery Email: Protection Against Fraud
20 December 2021 |

Amazon OTP Delivery Email: Protection Against Fraud

You can fight scammers who order big-ticket items from your Amazon account with a one-time password that stops them from receiving the item.

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1 December 2021 |

Shipping Scams Use Fake Emails to Steal Your Information

Scammers are sending convincing emails, posing as shipping companies and online shopping sites, in order to collect your personal information.

Brushing Scams: Receiving Packages You Didn't Order
12 July 2021 |

Brushing Scams: Receiving Packages You Didn't Order

Although somewhat harmless, being a target of a brushing scam can mean your information is compromised and could lead to more harmful scams.

Package Reroute Scam: Always Buy Your Own Shipping Labels
3 June 2021 |

Package Reroute Scam: Always Buy Your Own Shipping Labels

Although buyers may seem like they're being helpful, an offer to organize shipping for you is often an attempt to scam you.

Guides Relating to Delivery

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6 Common FedEx Scams Meant to Steal Your Info & Money
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6 Common FedEx Scams Meant to Steal Your Info & Money

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Facebook Marketplace Scams: How They Work & Red Flags

Facebook Marketplace Scams: How They Work & Red Flags

Online marketplaces may offer you opportunities to find some great deals—but they offer scammers just as much of a chance to score.

7 Easy & Effective Ways to Stop Porch Pirates

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Beat eBay Scams and Stay Safe When Shopping Online

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Whether it's a counterfeit product, a sketchy seller, or a price too good to be true, eBay scams are widespread, so it's important to know how to protect yourself.

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