This year’s Black Friday shopping bonanza brought in records sales, topping $9 billion in value. Two days later, on Cyber Monday, holiday shoppers spent $10.8 billion, a 15% increase over 2019’s Cyber Monday spending. Now, as packages are making their way to digital shoppers, shipping and package scams are proliferating.

What’s happening with shipping and package delivery scams?

A California realtor reports that a UPS package of his was en route, when he received an email that appeared to be from UPS. The email said that UPS would not be able to deliver the package and that by following a link, the realtor could obtain the tracking information. He would then be able to make alternative delivery plans.

“At that point, I clicked on the link and my screen started flashing,” said the realtor. A box popped up with the words ‘you have been hacked. We have encrypted all of your files.’ The cyber criminals demanded a payment of 150 bitcoins in exchange for file decryption. This is the rough equivalent of 66,000 dollars.

This individual lost all of his family photos, business contact information, and suffered from identity theft. Later on, his email account was also hacked and the cyber criminals spam messaged his contact list.

“We have our minds on other things like [the] pandemic and our kids getting educated remotely,” said Brian Linder, a threat prevention expert with Check Point Software. “And it’s a perfect time for these bad actors to prey on consumers that are not paying close attention.”

What can you do to help minimize shipping and package delivery scams?

Awareness is key. These phishing scams often impersonate businesses like UPS, FedEx and DHL. Red flags indicating a possible scam include:

  1. Slight misspellings in emails
  2. Phony looking logos
  3. URLs that lack a lock icon (HTTPS encryption)
  4. Messages that create a fierce sense of urgency

The best means of guarding against cyber security scams is to ensure that advanced cyber security defenses are appropriately installed on networks and devices. Two-factor authentication and regular software updates can also help.

In the event that you notice shipping and package delivery scams, you can report them to the US Federal Trade Commission or via the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker tool.

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