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Christmas cons now targeting your ordered packages

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Here’s hoping you made it through Black Friday and Small business Saturday and were able to cruise through Cyber Monday with your identity and credit card numbers intact and with no scammers in sight.

But don’t rest on your laurels yet.

There’s a new round of scams, and they play on anticipated delivery of the packages you’ve ordered, whether through the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service, FedEx or other delivery companies.

In one version, scammers are sending out fake delivery notification emails as part of a phishing scheme to steal customer information.

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Among the subject lines in these fake emails are: “We could not deliver your parcel,” “Please Confirm Your Shipment,” Problems with item delivery” and “Your order is ready to be delivered.”

People who receive the emails can be easily fooled because the address is similar to the company’s name, and the content can include company logos that look like the real thing.

Once you open the email, the scammers hope to con you into clicking on a link.

Here are some common ploys that you might see in these bogus emails, according to Kim Komando, who hosts a website about technology:

• “Package could not delivered, click here to redeliver the package.”

• “Print the attached form and bring to your local post office to pick up your package.”

• “Click here to authorize the release of the package. It’s held up at the post office or customs.”

If you fall for the come-on, you might be taken to a legitimate-looking site that will ask you to provide account information, such as logins and credit card information. Or a clicked-upon link or attachment could unleash malware that could infect your computer, locking it up and stealing information.

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Another version of the delivery scam happens by phone, when the caller says you have a package waiting for delivery or that someone else received a package intended for you. The caller will then ask you for personal information to make sure you are the correct recipient.

The moral of these seasonal scams is this: do not be persuaded to give out any personal information, either over the phone or in an email, and don’t click on links or attachments.

If you think there might in fact be a package waiting for you, use the shipper’s tracking number to try to find out where it is, advises Consumer Reports.

Also, you can search for a phone number or email address to contact the business directly regarding delivery information.

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In another holiday-related warning, the state attorney general has issued some recommendations when it comes to gift cards:

• Buy only from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.

• Take a close look at the card before you buy it to make sure the protective stickers have not been removed. “Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.”

• Check whether any fees will be deducted from the card after you purchase it.

• Give recipients the original receipt so they can verify the card’s purchase in case it is lost or stolen.

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And, finally, some non-holiday related news. AARP and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have launched a campaign aimed at providing veterans with information to protect themselves from scams. Among the scams targeted specifically toward vets are bogus offers to turn VA benefits into cash, modify VA loans or provide new military benefits.

The effort is called Operation Protect Veterans. It asks that those who see suspicious emails, phone calls or mailings directed at veterans report them to protectveterans@aarp.org or 1-855-800-9023. For more information, go to http://states.aarp.org/operation-protect-veterans/

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

 


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