Online Porch Pirates: The “I have your package, where’s your house?” Scam

Last Updated: May 14, 2024By Tags: , , , , ,

Many a Ring or Blink security camera has caught a porch pirate in the act of stealing packages from a doorstep. But of course, online pirates need to take stealing up a notch — and that means contacting random people and pretending to be delivery drivers.

You might receive an email and/or text message either from someone posing as a delivery service representative or delivery driver. The script is usually that they have a package for you but they can’t locate your home (reasons may vary if they take it far enough). You might respond with, “But…I’m not expecting a package.” The fraudsters have a ready response of their own: they’ll simply say that the package is a “gift.” Another tack is that you may receive an email asking if a drop-off can be rescheduled. You might also find a (fake) sticker or door hanger on your front door basically informing you that a delivery attempt had been made.

You’ve probably figured out the motive behind these tactics. Ding-ding-ding! — if you guessed that these online porch pirates are phishing, you’d be correct. They want to absorb as much personal information from you as they can, but their main goal is to entice you to click a link in an email or text which will lead you to a website loaded with malware/spyware. Once your device is infected, and you log into your bank account or other financial institution, the scammers will have your passwords. Besides draining your funds, they can also dial phone numbers with high per-minute fees using your harvested passwords.

What you can do to protect yourself

Whenever you receive an email or text (or any other communication for that matter) from a purported delivery service, contact the actual seller or look up the verified phone number of the delivery service and call them directly, recommends the FCC. This should always be a rule of thumb: Never use a phone number or visit website URLs included in any emails or texts — always go directly to the actual source.

Beware of Smishing!

Have you received unsolicited mobile text messages with an unfamiliar or strange web link that indicates a USPS delivery requires a response from you?  If you never signed up for a USPS tracking request for a specific package, then don’t click the link! This type of text message is a scam called smishing.

Smishing is a form of phishing that involves a text message or phone number. Victims will typically receive a deceptive text message that is intended to lure the recipient into providing their personal or financial information. These scammers often attempt to disguise themselves as a government agency, bank, or other company to lend legitimacy to their claims. USPS utilizes the 5-digit short codes to send and receive SMS to and from mobile phones.


From the FTC: Heard about the “waiting package” phishing scam?

Phishing scams can be hard to spot. For example, we’ve been hearing about one where people get a text message saying that there’s a package waiting for them, and asking them to click a link to learn more. Sounds innocent enough, right? Unfortunately not.


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