The year 2020 saw many changes to the way we live our lives, from wearing masks to embracing home workouts. The Covid-19 pandemic meant the luxuries we took for granted — for example, being able to browse at the local shopping center — were no longer available.
The internet proved to be an invaluable tool in this regard, keeping our lives and the economy moving. Unfortunately, cybercriminals were also aware of this and immediately sprung into action with a variety of devastating online scams.
Delivery scams were among the most effective of these, given the large number of people who turned to shop online during lockdowns. Australian delivery companies including Australia Post and Toll Priority reported a large spike in recorded delivery scams and continue to urge customers to remain wary of any text message or email purporting to be from an official delivery company.
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Common types of delivery scams
There are a variety of ways in which delivery scammers attempt to target their victims. Luckily, most can be deduced with a little insider knowledge and a healthy dose of skepticism.
Parcel delivery payment
Scammers will often contact their victims and claim that their parcel is on the way, but has currently been held up and requires additional payment in order to be delivered. These types of messages will usually contain a link which you are asked to follow to make payment.
Never click on these links. They are likely to lead you to malicious websites and may result in malware being downloaded to your device or your personal data being stolen.
A phishing scam is a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal information — such as your full name, address, and credit card details — through impersonation of a trusted organization.
Scammers have been known to impersonate Australia Post workers and have contacted customers to inform them that part of their delivery address is missing or that their online MyPost account needs to be updated to prevent losing access. Inevitably when this information is handed over, the online criminals steal it and use it for their own purposes, often selling it on the dark web.
Fake money order
It’s not only those who are buying online that need to be wary; scammers have also been known to target sellers.
A fake money order scam occurs when an individual sends a traveler’s cheque, bank draft, or foreign cheque in exchange for goods or services. The amount on the cheque will usually be greater than the asking price, and the scammer asks you to refund the difference to them. However, when you go to cash the cheque, it will likely bounce — leaving you out of pocket.
Advice from Australia Post
Australia Post is aware of these types of delivery scams and proactively works to protect its customers. The company advises that they will never:
- Ask customers to click on a link to receive their package.
- Email or call asking for personal information including password, credit card details or account information.
- Request additional payment for any type of service.
They ask that customers delete these kinds of emails immediately and report details of the scam to Scamwatch.
How to protect yourself
The last thing you want is to have to give up the convenience of online shopping. Luckily, there are a few strategies that you can employ to protect yourself when browsing and purchasing on the internet.
- Never reply to a message asking for your personal details: Australia Post will never request this kind of information. If you do receive a message or email that you suspect is part of a scam, proactively contact the delivery company yourself to check on the delivery status of your parcel and immediately delete the message.
- Check the Australia Post website regularly: Australia Post proactively updates its website to share emerging and on-going scams with its customers. Being aware of the types of strategies that cybercriminals are employing will protect your online activities.
- Utilize security software: A good security software package will contain anti-phishing technology, which can proactively protect you from accessing malicious websites and having malware downloaded to your computer.
- Report on scams: Reporting delivery scams to the relevant authorities — in Australia, this is Scamwatch — will alert others who may be at risk and can help stop the scammers in their tracks.
Use your newfound knowledge to shop online safely, confidently and without risk of falling victim to online scams.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys traveling and curating her Spotify playlists.
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