KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you have sent a package recently through the mail, the United States Postal Service has a warning about a new scam called ‘smishing’. It’s a form of phishing and it involves a text message or phone number intended to lure you into proving personal information or sending money.
With the increase in deliveries, the FCC and Postal Service have received complaints about delivery notification scam calls and texts, proving once again that con artists are following the trends, and adapting their scams to steal your money and information.
Judy Gerhardt’s favorite pastime is making quilts for special people in her life. About ten days ago, she sent a quilt to her brother-in-law and mailed it through the Postal Service to West Tennessee. She used a tracking service provided by the US Postal Service.
“I always track the packages that I sent to know when they get there. If someone happens not to be home and it is left. It may disappear before they get it. So, I like to know,” said Gerhardt.
Checking on the delivery status of her package, she entered the tracking or confirmation number. The quilt had not yet arrived, but then she gets a message on her phone.
“I got a text message. In quotation marks, it says Postal Service. And then it says Your package will not be delivered because of an incorrect address. Please update the address information in time,” said Gerhardt. “They wanted my name, my address, my telephone number. And it wanted my credit card number and said there would be a $3 charge for returning the package.”
The day after receiving the text her package arrived at brother in law’s house. Gerhardt doubled checked with her post office.
“They said if we said it’s been delivered – it has been delivered. And we don’t have anybody’s telephone anyhow, so we could not have sent you a text,” said Gerhardt.
The text sent to Gerhardt includes a link to a scam website. In the URL are the letters USP inside of USPS. It’s designed to look like a post office. But the US Postal Service website begins with USPS. The Postal Service says unless a website’s URL contains the exact spelling of USPS.com, it’s likely a scam. The Postal Service does send legitimate text messages to alert you of delivery steps, but only if you request the notifications.
“Evidentially somebody along the way knew I had mailed a package and somehow got my telephone number in order to send me a text, so just be careful. Check with the post office,” said Gerhardt.
Other warning signs about this scam include poor grammar and messages that mentioned a fee. Delivery scams and theft can happen year round and not just during the Christmas holiday season. Scammers are hoping you are busy or distracted and will act without thinking.
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Judy says she was temporarily distracted. But as soon as she was asked to send money, it became obvious the message was a hoax.