UPS and FedEx are contending with a new wrinkle in package scams that involves fraudulently ordered electronics being returned to criminals rather than to a legitimate retail shipping address.
Watch out for this hot package scam
According to The Plain Dealer, an Ohio man narrowly avoided being taken in a scam that preys on the distraction you feel after your credit card has been breached by criminals.
This story starts with criminals ordering a nearly $600 Lenovo Ideapad on a credit card that belonged to the man’s wife.
Fortunately, the couple was signed up for email alerts from their bank. Each time a new charge is posted to their account, they get an instant notification.
The couple immediately reported the charge as fraudulent to their bank, which hadn’t noticed any red flags around the purchase of the computer from Best Buy.
Once alerted, the bank immediately stopped payment on the order.
Yet a few days later, the computer showed up at the couple’s home on a UPS truck. The man called Best Buy to explain what was going on.
Fortunately, he able to return the computer to a local Best Buy store — no harm, no foul.
Here’s where this package scam gets really interesting…
The day after the man returned the computer, FedEx showed up at the couple’s home with a shipping label and instructions to pick up a computer for return to Best Buy.
However, the address on the return shipping label wasn't for a legitimate Best Buy location; it was for a residential street address in the Philadelphia area — likely the home of re-shipping mule who doesn't even suspect that their new work-from-home job is part of a criminal front.
So the m.o. of the criminals is this: They order expensive electronics on a stolen credit card and have the purchases shipped to the home of the legitimate credit card holder. The criminals expect that the card holder will become preoccupied with disputing the purchase with their bank.
That’s when the crooks strike a second time by sending a return label and package in which the item is supposed to be shipped back to the retailer.
But if you ship it before noticing that the address on the return label is not that of legitimate warehouse or place of business, the retailer may hold you financially responsible for the cost of the stolen merchandise.
It’s a simple yet effective scam that preys on the overwhelming feeling you get when your credit card is breached by criminals.
The lesson? Never return something you didn't order without first verifying that it's a legitimate address to which you're return shipping.
And sign up for email alerts from your bank! They’re free and put you on the front line of protecting your accounts.