Beware of These Holiday Mail Scams
Hopefully, the holiday season brings joy with friends and family, generosity, and goodwill. Unfortunately, it also presents a heightened risk of scams. According to a 2022 AARP Fraud Watch Network report, three-quarters of U.S. consumers have encountered or been targeted by holiday-related fraud, including fake charity requests, online shopping scams, and deceptive messages about shipping issues.
Beware of scammers this holiday season.
As the holiday shopping season is in full swing, scammers actively seek opportunities to exploit unsuspecting people. Best Life, a lifestyle magazine, has identified some prevalent mail scams. One such scam is known as “brushing,” where recipients receive unexplained packages at their doorstep containing unordered items. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) explains that these parcels often lack a return address or sender information, except for a potential retailer. Despite appearing as a logistical mistake, these packages are usually dispatched by international third parties aiming to gain verified buyer status by obtaining addresses online.
Another scam highlighted is “smishing,” involving deceptive text messages pretending to be USPS tracking requests or package delivery notifications. These messages, named for their use of SMS text, contain links that could lead to personal information theft under the guise of “address confirmation” or solicit small payments for postage. The origin of these texts isn’t limited to USPS, as all carriers can be targets of such email scams. Typically, recipients receive messages in their inbox claiming a failed delivery attempt or requesting a small payment. The recipient is then asked to click a link, leading to a fraudulent website. The website is designed to steal personal information, passwords, or financial details.
To combat these scams, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides tips for safe gift purchases and donations. They recommend using credit cards for online transactions, as they offer additional protection and benefits, such as return and purchase protection. If unauthorized charges appear, credit cardholders can dispute them. The FTC also advises caution when donating to charities, suggesting thorough research to ensure the legitimacy of the organization before making any contributions. Additionally, if someone pressures you into making a donation over the phone, take the time to verify the charity independently.
Check out the complete list of some of the biggest mail scams here.