The holidays are finally here—that’s both good news and bad news. The good news is you’ll likely be receiving gifts from friends and family. The bad news is scammers have thought up yet another way to trick you into giving them your money. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a scam where thieves lead you to believe you received a holiday package. If you follow the thieves’ instructions and fall for the scam, you could end up providing your credit or debit card information.
How thieves try to scam you
The scam starts with a phone call. A representative from a delivery company contacts you to let you know that you have a package on its way to your address. Later that day, a fake delivery person arrives at your residence with a special gift basket. Unbeknownst to you, this gift is going to cost you a world of trouble. The first red flag is the package will not have a card attached, so you have no way of knowing who sent the gift. Consequently, when you inquire about the identity of the sender, the delivery person will say he or she doesn’t know. He or she may even say the card was mailed separately.
Once you accept the gift, the trouble begins. The delivery person will say you’re required to pay a small verification fee with a credit or debit card. The BBB says there is another version of this scam where the thief will say you must confirm your age because the gift basket contains alcohol. Then the scammer will state you must provide a credit or debit card so that it can be scanned by a hand-held card scanner.
Whatever you do, don’t reach for your card. The scanner is really a device that captures your card number and security code. Once this information is obtained, you could become the victim of identity theft or unknowingly sponsor a holiday shopping spree.
How you can protect yourself
The Better Business Bureau says there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of falling prey to delivery scammers. Here are some of their tips.
The BBB says you should be very suspicious if an unrecognized delivery service says you have a package. It is more likely that your friends and family will use a known delivery company to send you gifts.
Guard your credit and debit card information
Never give a stranger your credit or debit card at the door. Alarm bells should go off if you’re unexpectedly asked to show your card, especially if you were not expecting to pay a fee. It is not uncommon for a delivery person to request your identification so that he or she can make sure the package is being delivered to the correct address (especially when alcohol or medication is being delivered). It is not common, however, for your credit or debit card to be requested. You should also not be asked to pay a fee in order to receive your package.
Stay aware of similar scams
Educate yourself about variations of this delivery scam. There are many other sneaky tactics used by thieves in an attempt to obtain financial information, especially during the holidays. The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau websites continually update their websites with the most current scams.