Scam Alert: Fake “Missed Delivery” Scheme Unleashes Havoc on Your Computer

packagesConsumers beware that even though they may not have done any online shopping, they still can become the target of parcel delivery fraud.

At this time of year, criminals go into high gear, phishing for personal information and money with fake “Missed Delivery” notices.

“It is not unusual to receive a parcel with a gift you bought or sent by someone else,” said CT Better Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz.

“As a result, someone might not have any reason to doubt that an email or phone call, supposedly from a delivery company, is fake,” he said.

Recipients are told that a truck driver was unable to deliver a package, and that that the recipient must click on a link to arrange another delivery date, or open and print out an attachment to complete the delivery process.

In either case, the links and attachments will likely unleash a virus or other malware that can track your logins and passwords as you travel the internet or corrupt your computer files.

It is simple to identify fake notices.  Neither delivery companies nor the US Postal Service will send a missed delivery or similar notice by email.  Instead, if a driver is unable to complete the deliver, he or she will leave a tag on your door offering to schedule another delivery date or arrange a pick up at the delivery depot.

Another fertile area for criminals is package theft.  Thieves travel our neighborhoods looking for packages on doorsteps or in lobbies of apartment or condo complexes.

Once they grab the parcel and disappear, if there’s something of value they will grab it, but if it isn’t something valuable to them, they’ll toss it.

Criminals also follow delivery and postal trucks, so they will know where they can steal parcels.  When the truck leaves, the crooks move in and grab the parcels.

Better Business Bureau offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim of delivery fraud:

Ignore calls to action over the phone and in email – Remember that delivery companies will never initiate contact by email or phone if you are not home to accept a parcel or envelope.    Ignore emails that encourage you to click a link or open an attachment to reschedule your delivery, and look for a missed delivery tag on your door.  Another sign of a fraudulent email is poor grammar and spelling.

Stop doorstep robbery – Whether it is at your front door or a common lobby in an apartment or condominium complex, there is a chance the merchandise may be stolen.  To prevent package theft, arrange to have gifts you bought delivered to a neighbor, trusted friend or your workplace.

Get a tracking number – When you place an order, a tracking number will tell you when the parcel was shipped to give you an idea of where it is along the route, and when it might arrive.

Keep your computer safe – Antivirus and anti-malware protection is only effective if you update the software and scan your computer weekly.

Aside from malware, computers can be stolen or crash and destroy your hard drive.  With that in mind, a good gift for yourself and others is a storage drive to back up your files in case of a catastrophic breakdown.