Online shopping can expose us to all sorts of pressures and problems. In our series on consumer trends and tactics we’ve looked at pressure selling and scarcity panic, greenwashing, and all manner of digital marketing tricks. However, there is something that we haven’t yet addressed: delivery and shopping scams.
Scammers try to target us when we are so busy or have so many things to keep track of we are vulnerable to making a mistake. Christmas is the busiest time of year for online shoppers and offers a priceless opportunity for those trying to exploit our eagerness to purchase the perfect gift or for items to arrive.
Between shopping, food prepping and gift wrapping, all of us are probably going to be exposed to some attempts to exploit us or steal our information over the festive season.
Across two articles, we’ll give some guidance on the most common scams around and how to stay wise to them.
Of all the scams, it’s those relating to deliveries of packages that came in top in 2023. According to Citizens Advice, more than 40 million people have been targeted by delivery scams this year – and that is not including this festive season.
Parcel delivery scams work by sending people a text or email that appears to be from a delivery company like Royal Mail, DPD or Evri. The message will try to extract personal information or bank details – usually by saying a small fee must be paid to complete or reschedule a delivery.
The text or email will always contain a link that will take you to a website that looks just like the companies but is in fact a fake – and where, if you submit your address or card details, they will be stolen. In some cases, the scam will encourage you to install an app or click a link that contains spyware.
When people are busy or impatiently waiting for parcels, they’re much more likely to fall for this type of scam.
These messages can be really convincing – with branded headers, legitimate looking websites and sometimes even false parcel tracking information. However, the first thing to remember is that, in general, delivery companies will rarely ask you to provide bank details to complete or reschedule a delivery. (Royal Mail will never ask for payment via text or email).
So if you receive a message of this nature don’t open any of the links. Instead stop and consider whether it is legitimate or not by following these three simple steps:
Most delivery scams will be very vague with details about what they are delivering or where from. By doing your own checklist of what you are expecting and from who, you can eliminate any obvious scams – messages from companies you don’t have packages with or items you aren’t expecting.
Checking the phone number or email address the message was sent from will almost always expose a scam. A scam text message will arrive from a mobile number, rather than an official sender name like Evri or DPD. And the email domains of scammers, while made to look like an official channel, will have some key differences – whether it be slight misspelling or formatting differences such as @evri.co.uk rather than @evri.com. You can always Google an email address or phone number to see if it is legitimate or has already been reported as fraudulent.
Before you click on any links, hover over the button or URL to check it goes. If it brings up an unrecognised address, it could be a scam.
The message itself is also likely to contain poor language, spelling and grammatical errors – you may see exclamation marks, lack of punctuation or strange capitalisation.
Anything that is obviously designed to put pressure on you to hand over your details quickly – phrases like “Actions will be taken if you don’t pay this fee” – should raise your suspicions.
With so many scammers about, most delivery companies now have pages on their websites dedicated to helping you spot them.
The Royal Mail website has a list of recent scams with examples that are worth taking a look at.
There are also a number of organisations and government initiatives to help support consumers tackle fraud.
The National Cyber Security Centre has issued specific guidance on how to spot and what to do if you have clicked on a fake “missed parcel” message.
If you do receive a suspicious message you should report it immediately to both the company they are pretending to be and firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the message is a text, you can forward it to 7726 for free. If it’s an email, take a screenshot and forward it to email@example.com.
If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.