I-TEAM uncovers new scams tied to massive mail delays

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team uncovered scams tied to massive delays with the mail. Crooks are trying to rip off innocent people tired of waiting for packages that seem to be lost.

Seems everyone these days is waiting for a package or something held up in the U.S. mail system.

Now, many people are finding messages popping up in phones and computers offering to help track down a package. But, con artists are sending links that turn out to be traps.

Ron Wilinski said he and his wife got one of these.

“We received a text message, we were eligible for reimbursement for a package that was lost. And, we were asked to provide personal information,” Wilinski said.

They deleted that message after they tried calling a number included in it and that number was out of service.

“If we hadn’t had time to check this out, we would’ve provided information and perhaps had our identity stolen.”

BeenVerified, a consumer data company, said it analyzed complaints nationwide about messages believed tied to scams revolving around packages.

“Delivery scams came out of nowhere,” said Richard Gargan, of BeenVerified. “In 2019 there were only just a couple hundred, maybe. But, they jumped up to about 8,000 text messages.”

So what if you’re waiting on something in the mail, and you get a message in your phone or computer? The U.S. Postal Service here in Cleveland said it is aware of these kinds of scams. The postal service said it would never contact you directly to ask for money or personal information.

“The first thing to do is be skeptical,” said Sue McConnell, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland. She said you click on one of those messages quickly, you might find big trouble. 

“You could be downloading some bad software on your computer that will put a virus on it, or track your keystrokes and try to find out what your passwords are. Perhaps a credit card account they’ll want, or some personal information,” McConnell said.

The U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service also offered tips. Educating people on how to identify a fake email and not click on the link is the best method we have to combat this scam.  Some red flags include poor grammar or spelling errors, states immediate action necessary and requesting personal information, to name a few. 

More steps to combat phising or smishing:

  • Think. Verify the identity of the sender and ask yourself why they’re asking.
  • Don’t reply or click on links. Doing so may install malware on your phone or computer.
  • Delete. Delete the text/email after reporting it. Save a screenshot if possible.
  • Report. Report the text/email to the business or agency the scammer is impersonating.
    • Smishing can be reported to the Inspection Service Cybercrime Team by sending an email, including a screenshot of the text, to spam@uspis.gov
    • Phishing can be reported to the Inspection Service Cybercrime Team by forwarding the spam email to spam@uspis.gov
  • Block spam and install security updates. The customer service department at your provider can help if you’re unsure about how to do this.
  • Think of personal information like cash. It can be used for any number of financial frauds. Be as circumspect about your personal data as you are about cash.

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