Online shoppers, here’s 5 tips to avoid shipping email scam

Scammers take advantage of the holiday shopping season by sending out fake email shipping notifications using FedEx, UPS or the United States Postal Service logos and designs. This Cyber Monday, don’t let these scams fool you into opening a virus on your computer.

Here’s how the scam works: You receive an email message that appears to be a shipping notification for a package. You’ve done your holiday shopping online, so you figure it must be something you’ve ordered. Curious, you open the email and attachment.

When you click on the file, you find that it isn’t a tracking notification after all. It’s really a virus that will download to your computer. Typically, these viruses phish for personal and banking information on your machine. But the FBI recently warned about the resurgence of a type of virus called “ransomware.” Once downloaded, this virus will lock your computer and urge you to pay a ransom to the scammer responsible.

Like all scams, this one has many variations. Scammers have posed as FedEx, UPS, USPS and even big online retailers, like Amazon. They also change-up the email content. A common version of this scam is a fake delivery failure notification. Scammers claim the attached virus is the receipt you need to collect your package from the local office.

Spot common email scams by following these tips:

  1. Don’t believe what you see. Scammers make emails seem to come from a reputable source. Just because it looks like an “” address does not mean it’s safe.
  2. Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in unfamiliar emails.
  3. Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they’ve originated from your computer. If you see a pop-up that looks like an anti-virus software but warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.
  4. Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos.
  5. Immediate action is necessary. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it.

For more information about scams, see BBB’s Scam Stopper.  Check out FedEx and UPS websites for more information about fake shipping emails and examples of typical scams.

Note: FedEx and UPS are Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses.

1 Comment

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One response to “Online shoppers, here’s 5 tips to avoid shipping email scam

  1. Mark Burrows

    Another good tip is to learn more about setting up your email protocols. If you do any online shopping, sellers will usually sent you at least two emails, one to confirm and and thank you for your purchase and a separate one as a receipt of your purchase including a tracking number of the shipper. Now, make sure you add the seller to your contact list, so it does not go to junk mail. When you get your tracking number from the seller, go to the shipping site and activate it, and enter your tracking number, then bookmark the page.
    Remember, it is up to you to monitor the activity of your transactions and the movement of your purchase, not the seller of the shipper. If you do not receive your package in an appropriate time frame, contact first the seller and inform them of not receiving your product, Then contact the shipper from the information on the bookmarked page. Most should provide a toll free number, if not and do not have 24 hour online chat either, and the last resort is either mailing a letter or sending an email, send the email. Again, only use the email address on the page you bookmarked and add it to your contact list.
    The point of this exercise is that through your email options you should be able to set it up so that any email you receive must be only from your contact list.
    If some emails manage to slip through your contact net, then flag them and move them to the junk mail.
    When you open your junk mail, rule number one, everyone is suspicious, that means, do NOT open links. do NOT open attachments.
    It is okay to just open the email, but always be wary and skeptical while viewing junk mail.
    Yes, there will be things such as emails you were expecting because you gave out your email address offline. These ones you simply click as not junk and return them to the inbox and add them to your contact list.
    This is how I have Windows Live Mail set up as well as gMail. I don’t get the troublesome emails in my regular inbox and for me, junk mail is entertainment.

    Mark Burrows

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