Everyone loves receiving packages, especially surprises. Although, some unexpected parcels may have darker intentions than Aunt Cindy sending you belated birthday socks. TNS recently identified a text scam involving unanticipated mail which attempts to directly charge your bank account.

The scam is sent through text message and includes a shortened link to a suspicious website that will ask you to pay the shipping on the package and try to sell you extra services included with a 14-day free trial.

The text appeals to natural human curiosity by teasing the recipient with wording like:

“We came across a package from March pending for you. Kindly claim ownership and schedule for delivery here”, followed by the link.

Sometimes the messenger may claim to be a major carrier such as Amazon, FedEx, USPS, or UPS, in an attempt to gain credibility. But, as one could expect from a classic scam, credit card information is required before the trial can begin. After the trial period, they will charge around $100 monthly without providing any services. These payments are intended to go unnoticed by the victim of the scam, putting money directly into the pocket of the criminal.

It is important to remain alert and be suspicious of unwarranted messages, even if they appear to be from a reliable source such a major mail carrier. It is safest to contact the carrier directly to double check. Never click a link provided by an unknown source through text or email, as simply opening the link may welcome dangerous viruses.

On its website, FedEx includes common warning signs of mail, text or online scams:

  • Unexpected requests for money in return for delivery of a package, often with a sense of urgency
  • Requests for personal and/or financial information
  • Links to misspelled or slightly altered website addresses, such as “fedx.com” or “fed-ex.com”
  • Spelling and grammatical errors or excessive use of capitalization and exclamation points
  • Certificate errors or lack of online security protocols for sensitive activities

UPS provides examples of these types of fraudulent communications on its fraud alert webpage.

In today’s world, it may feel like there are scams everywhere but staying informed and taking the right precautions can prevent you from falling victim. Before making online purchases, it is important to read the fine print to fully understand what you are agreeing to. It is also recommended to monitor your bank accounts and credit card and other statements closely to catch any suspicious charges.

Stay vigilant and share information about scams with others. Always be extra suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, texts and email to avoid being taken advantage of by bad actors.

If you receive a call or text which you believe to be from a scammer, report it via the FCC website or your state Attorney General website to help combat this activity. In addition, consumers can protect themselves by leveraging robocall detection solutions powered by TNS Call Guardian®. In these trying times, vigilance is even more important than before; be smart and stay safe.

Jim Tyrrell is Senior Director of Product Marketing at TNS with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.

Call Guardian is a registered trademark of Transaction Network Services, Inc.