Missed Package SMS Scams on the Rise This Festive Season, How to Avoid Them

A person holding a smartphone, with shopping cart displayed on screen. Missed package SMS scams on the rise

I understand that you are concerned about the rise of missed package SMS scams, especially during this festive season. It’s important to be vigilant and cautious when receiving text messages from courier companies. These scams can be quite convincing and could lead to the loss of your hard-earned money.

SMS: “Your package cannot be delivered accurately due to missing address, please check: [URL link].”

If you receive a text message like this, don’t click on the link. It could be a scam that tries to steal your personal information or infect your device with malware.

What are missed package SMS scams?

Missed package SMS scams are a type of phishing attack that target online shoppers.

According to a recent report by ESET Threat Report, there has been a six-fold increase in detections of shipping-themed phishing lures between May-August 2022 compared to January-to-April 2022 period.

The report also highlights that these scams often involve fake DHL and USPS requests to verify shipping addresses and contribute to ESET’s blocking 28% more phishing URLs than in the first four months of the year, amounting to almost 4.7 million.

It’s important to be aware of the common tactics used by scammers. They could be:

Scammers send fake delivery notifications from well-known courier companies or online retailers. And urge recipients to click on a link to track their parcel or update their details.

Because the trust customers customers (or shoppers) have for reputable courier companies or retailers, they may be tempted to click on the links.

Unfortunately, the link then leads to a malicious website or app that asks for personal or financial information, or downloads malware onto the device.

According to Which?, three in five people received fake delivery company texts in the year 2020, and some have lost money as a result.

These scams are especially common during the festive season, when many people order gifts online and expect deliveries.

Here are some tips on how to avoid missed package SMS scams and protect yourself from fraudsters.

How to avoid malware sent using scam ‘missed package’ SMS

Malware is malicious software that can harm your device or data. Some missed package SMS scams try to trick you into downloading malware by claiming that you need to install a tracking app or an anti-virus software.

For example, one recent scam uses the name of FluBot, a banking malware that can steal passwords and credentials from Android devices.

The scam text claims that your phone is infected with FluBot and that you need to download an app to remove it. However, the app is actually the malware itself.

To avoid malware sent using scam ‘missed package’ SMS messages, follow these steps:

  • Don’t click on any links or attachments in unsolicited texts.
  • Only download apps from official app stores, such as Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Keep your device updated with the latest security patches and anti-virus software.
  • If you suspect that you have downloaded malware, delete the app immediately and scan your device for viruses.
  • If you have entered any passwords or credentials on a malicious website or app, change them as soon as possible.

How to tell if you’ve installed malware

Some signs that you may have installed malware on your device are:

  • Your device is slower than usual or crashes frequently.
  • You see pop-up ads or notifications that you can’t close or dismiss.
  • You notice unauthorized charges on your bank account or credit card.
  • You receive calls or texts from unknown numbers or contacts.
  • You see apps that you don’t recognize or didn’t install.

If you notice any of these signs, you should take action to remove the malware and secure your device.

What to do if you’ve installed malware

If you think you’ve installed malware on your device, here are some steps you can take to fix the problem:

  • Disconnect your device from the internet and turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
  • Delete any suspicious apps that you have downloaded recently.
  • Scan your device with a reputable anti-virus software and remove any detected threats.
  • Change all your passwords and enable two-factor authentication where possible.
  • Contact your bank and credit card providers and inform them of any fraudulent transactions.
  • Consider performing a factory reset on your device, which will erase all your data and settings and restore it to its original state. However, this should be done as a last resort, as you will lose all your personal files and apps. Make sure you back up your data before doing a factory reset.

Read more about password security HERE.

How to safely check for missed packages

If you are expecting a delivery and receive a text message that claims to be from a courier company or an online retailer, don’t trust it blindly. Instead, follow these tips to safely check for missed packages:

  • Check the sender’s number and compare it with the official website of the company. If they don’t match, it’s likely a scam.
  • Look for spelling or grammatical errors in the text message. Legitimate companies usually proofread their messages before sending them.
  • Don’t click on any links in the text message. Instead, go directly to the company’s website or app and enter your tracking number or order details there.
  • If you are not sure if the text message is genuine, contact the company directly using their official phone number or email address. Don’t use the contact details provided in the text message, as they may be fake.
  • If you have already clicked on a link in a scam text message, don’t enter any personal or financial information on the website or app. Close it immediately and scan your device for viruses.

Recommended: 4 common investment scams to avoid.

How to report suspicious-looking messages

If you receive a suspicious-looking text message that claims to be about a missed package, you should report it to help stop the scammers and protect others from falling victim.

United Kingdom

You can report scam text messages to your network operator by forwarding them to 7726, which spells out SPAM on a telephone keypad. This is a free service that allows network operators to identify and block scam numbers.

You can also report scam text messages to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can do this online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

United States

If you get an unwanted text message, there are three ways to report it:

Kenya

  • Forward the fraudster’s number or message to 333
  • Contact the Police on 999 or 911
  • Reach out to Safaricom operator through their Official Facebook & X pages on SafaricomPLC.

How to protect yourself from future scams

To prevent yourself from falling for missed package SMS scams or other types of phishing attacks in the future, you should:

  • Be wary of any unsolicited text messages that ask you to click on a link, download an app, or provide personal or financial information.
  • Don’t trust caller ID or sender ID, as scammers can spoof them to make it look like they are from a legitimate company or person.
  • Always verify the identity and authenticity of the sender before responding or taking any action.
  • Educate yourself and your family and friends about the common signs and types of scams and how to avoid them.
  • Use a reliable SMS protection service that can filter unwanted texts and flag suspicious links.

Final thoughts on missed package SMS scams

Missed package SMS scams are a serious threat that can cost you money and compromise your identity.

By following the tips above, you can stay safe and enjoy your online shopping without worries.


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