If You Get This Message From the USPS, Don't Open It
This note in your email inbox is actually a widespread new scam.
Instead of waiting by the mailbox like we once did, we've now gotten used to tracking our packages through up-to-the-minute email or text updates. But while you might be eagerly opening USPS emails about your upcoming arrivals, you should be aware that not every message is what it seems. In fact, reports have started coming out recently about a new email that appears to be from the USPS but is actually a scam. Read on to find out what you should be on the lookout for.
Some people are reporting a USPS email scam concerning at-home COVID tests.
Millions of people across the U.S. are awaiting deliveries from the USPS of free at-home COVID tests courtesy of the federal government. Starting Jan. 18, one person per residential address has been able to sign up to receive a shipment of four tests on the Postal Service's website. Tests should be shipped through the USPS within seven to 12 days, per the agency.
Now, scammers are looking to strike. Resident Brenda Hukriede told the CBS-affiliated station WINK News in Florida that she received an email that appeared to be from the USPS complete with a tracking number, claiming there was an issue with her order for the tests. According to the news outlet, clicking the link in the email brings you to what looks like the USPS site but is not actually affiliated with the agency. The website is not verifiable and the tracking number attached does not exist.
An error message will appear on the real USPS website if there is an issue with your order.
The USPS has an entire website section dedicated to the errors that can occur while you're trying to sign up for the free tests, from problems with duplicate orders for the same address to issues validating your address. But according to the Postal Service, all these error messages will appear on the agency's website when you're trying to complete your order, not later on in your email inbox.
If you've provided the USPS with your email address, you will only receive your order confirmation and tracking information. Any order issues will be addressed through a service request that consumers have to fill out on their own on the Postal Service's website.
"No one will call, text, or email you from the federal government to ask for your information to 'help' you order free kits. Only a scammer will contact you, asking for information like your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number. Do not respond," the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns on its website.
If you're asked to enter payment information, you're likely dealing with a scam.
According to WINX News, the website linked to the fake email Hukriede received also asks recipients to enter their credit card information to pay $3 for shipping in order to fix their at-home COVID test order. But the USPS notes on its website that both the tests and shipping are free. "No credit card or payment information is needed," the Postal Service says.
"The tests are completely free. There are no shipping costs, and you don't have to give a credit card or bank account number. You only need to give a name and address," the FTC further explains on its website. "Once you place an order, you'll get an order confirmation number. If you give your email address, you'll also get an order confirmation email and delivery updates. Anyone who asks for more information than that is a scammer."
There are several fake websites that might attempt to trick users looking for free tests.
According to Mashable, there were websites with suspiciously similar URLs to the USPS' official website live less than 24 hours after the real page launched. A Twitter user posted about a series of "sketchy domains" that were registered around Jan. 13, when the federal government's real domains, covidtest.gov and covidtests.gov, went live. Some of the scam website links include covidtestgov.us, freecovidtestimg.us, freecovidtests.us, doineedacovid19test.us, 24hrcovidtesting.us, centerforcovidtesting.us, and covidrapidtesting.us.
Some fake sites, like covidtestsgov.com, even link out to expensive rapid tests for sale online, hoping to catch users looking for the free tests. This fake website in particular directs users to another site that has two-count rapid tests listed for $39.97, per Mashable.
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