FBI Portland
Portland Media Office
(503) 460-8099
December 14, 2021

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Holiday Shipping Scams

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against holiday shipping scams.

This week—we are talking about all the ways your holiday gifts can get snagged in a shipping scam. You did all the right things when you bought that bonanza of gifts. You used legitimate websites. You paid through a secure portal. You checked reviews. But, there’s more you have to do to keep your packages and yourself safe. You receive an email or text message that says there’s a problem delivering your package or you can check on its delivery status.

It may come from the retailer or the supposed shipper (such as UPS, FedEx, or U.S. Postal Service.) Attached there might be a supposed invoice loaded with malware… one click and your device is infected. Or, the email tells you to click on the link to get an update on the projected delivery date. You get sent to a bogus—but real-looking—website where you promptly enter your user ID and password. The bad actor now has free rein in your account.

How do you tell if that email or text notification is real? Check the email account used. Are there misspellings or is it from a generic email provider such as Gmail or Yahoo? Another thing to watch for: most big sellers will include shipping details in the body of the email—not require you to click on a link. Regardless, if you have any questions, make sure you close the message and type the seller’s website address yourself in your browser. Go into your account as you usually would to check for updates.

Here are a few other ways to keep protected this shopping and shipping season:

  • Keep track of what you ordered, from whom, and when it is to be delivered. It’s easy to forget what to expect when you are so busy overwhelming your grandkids with stuff.
  • Consider picking up items instead of having them shipped to your house if you won’t be home to stop porch pirates. Amazon can send packages to a secure locker or pick-up spot. Many others—such as Walmart and Target—will ship to a nearby store for retrieval.
  • Keep your anti-malware software up to date. That will hopefully re-direct any fake messages before you ever see them.

If you are the victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.