Coronavirus causing delivery scams to rise

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With the surge in home deliveries due to COVID-19 shopping restrictions, delivery scams have become the number-one cellphone fraud, according to new research.

Bogus delivery messages were the scam most often reported by consumers in 2020, according to complaints monitored by BeenVerified, a background check and public data company.

Nearly one in 10 of all reports received from January through mid-October were related to bogus delivery messages purporting to be from FedEx, DHL, the U.S. Postal Service and other carriers, the company said.

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These scams first exploded last Christmas season, but with the COVID-19 lockdowns, scammers have found "it to be a perfect playbook during the pandemic," Evan Schlossman, a data analyst for BeenVerified, said in a blog post.

BeenVerified analyzed 182,185 spam call complaints and nearly one in 10 were related to fake delivery messages, or about 18,000 complaints, Richard Gargan, a spokesperson for BeenVerified, told Fox News.

Some examples of the more common scams are redelivery, missed delivery and survey and free trials.

Redelivery scam

Hackers will send a text that asks to redeliver a fake package and requests a small fee, typically a few dollars, but what they really want is your credit card data. So, to pay the redelivery fee, the scammer is hoping you will hand over your credit card details.

The fraudster then charges you "for an expensive, difficult to cancel subscription or for an illegal product such as an unlawful movie streaming service," BeenVerified explained.

Missed delivery and survey scam

A text about a missed delivery leads to a fake Amazon survey, with authentic-looking Amazon branding, asking you to rate the delivery experience. There is a bogus prize offered as an incentive to fill out the survey, such as an iPhone 12 or Playstation 5.

"And when the consumer inevitably wins, delivery of the prize costs $5," according to BeenVerified. Payment of the delivery charge leads to signing up for "an expensive and difficult to cancel and often illegal subscription."

Free trial scam

Delivery calls or texts that offer a fake free trial. "These offers come with fine print buried on the order page that gives consumers a short time to receive, evaluate, and return the product to avoid being charged," according to BeenVerified. For example, hidden terms and conditions may stipulate you’re signing up for a monthly subscription by accepting the free trial offer. "It’s often difficult to impossible to contact the seller to stop recurring charges, halt shipments, and get refunds," BeenVerified added.

After delivery scams, the second-most common scam was calls and text messages purportedly from the Social Security Administration. These scams threaten to cut benefits unless victims call a phone number or click on a link.

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The same warnings apply here that apply to all consumer cyber-scams.

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If you’re tricked into handing over sensitive personal information, the data can then be used by fraudsters in other scams — in addition to the risk of incurring unwanted charges.

Or if you’re tricked into clicking on a link, that could result in downloading malicious software onto your device.

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