Police Just Issued New Warnings About Avoiding Package Theft (and Other Holiday Scams)
Prevent your gifts and your personal information from being stolen.
Now that we're fully immersed in the holiday season, there's a good chance you've already started ordering gifts online. In the coming days and weeks, packages will be dropped on your doorstep—and thankfully, most retailers now shoot you a text or an email to let you know when that happens. But if you're not home or unable to grab your delivery right away, you run the risk of becoming a target of infamous "porch pirates." Now, police are issuing new warnings about package theft, as well as other not-so-festive holiday scams. Read on to find out how to keep yourself and your belongings safe.
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Almost half of Americans have had a holiday package snatched.
Holiday package theft is, unfortunately, rampant. According to a 2022 study performed by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma, 43 percent of Americans say that they've been a victim after ordering online, and 45 percent say that they're afraid that a package may be swiped this holiday season.
These thefts aren't only inconvenient, but also costly. The study found that approximately 35 percent of people weren't able to get their money back after reporting a stolen package—and losses can be significant. Of those who weren't reimbursed for stolen purchases, 47 percent said that the average "unrecoverable cost" was between $100 and $299.
Police are monitoring reports of package theft, and now they're offering new advice on staying vigilant if you're doing any online shopping for the holidays.
Police are already seeing an uptick in these crimes.
Holiday package theft is a nationwide issue, with different police departments citing crime spikes in early December. Police in Euclid, Ohio, said that they've received roughly 12 reports of package thefts, while those in Parma, Ohio, have received 17 reports, Fox-affiliate WJW reported.
"Unfortunately, it's that time of year," Euclid Police Chief Scott Meyer told the outlet. "Because it is the holiday season, there are people that are going to take advantage of this and look for packages on porches."
The Laurens Police Department in Laurens, South Carolina, also cited an uptick, having received two reports over a 48-hour period, CBS-affiliate WSPA reported. Lt. Scott Franklin spoke with the outlet, explaining that thieves will make their way through neighborhoods and seek out the packages that are left outside.
To avoid having your deliveries nabbed, police have specific recommendations.
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Be proactive with your deliveries.
In general, Meyer recommends having packages delivered when you know that you'll be home to retrieve them, or getting the OK from your employer to have packages delivered to your office. Several retailers also offer the option to pick up your order at a local store, which may take some extra time, but ensures that your purchases won't be left out in the open.
If you can't be home when your package is arriving, you can also request that your delivery require a signature or ask deliverers to put it "in a non-conspicuous location," Franklin told WSPA. When in doubt, ask a neighbor grab your deliveries and hold onto them for you.
A doorbell camera can also add an extra layer of security. Franklin confirmed they've "been an amazing asset in identifying these individuals."
Scammers may try other approaches this holiday season.
Thieves are brazen when grabbing packages directly from your doorstep, but sometimes they hide behind technology.
Police in Leander, Texas, told ABC-affiliate KVUE that residents have reported a text message scam where fraudsters masquerade as delivery companies. The message states that a package was undeliverable, asking the recipient to click a link to "change your address." In reality, thieves are hoping to steal your personal information.
In Blacksburg, South Carolina, a slightly different scam is circulating. Officer Shahna Blanton of the Blacksburg Police Department told WSPA that she'd received a scam message about an undeliverable package, noting that it looked legit and she was actually waiting on a delivery. This text again asked her to click a link, but this message requested payment for re-delivery.
"Which is not a thing," she said. "Obviously, I backed out of all that and closed it out."
Know the warning signs of scams.
To keep yourself safe, trust your gut. Texts and emails that look too simple or generic are often scams, Blanton said, adding that authentic messages will have information like account numbers or a company logo. If you think that the text could be real, she recommends calling the company that you ordered from or logging in to your account online to verify any charges you may have incurred.
And if you receive the text asking you to update your personal information, Leander police say that you should never do so in response to an "unsolicited request."
"If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information," a warning on the department's Facebook page reads, also advising residents to keep an eye on their bank account to ensure it hasn't been compromised and that all charges are correct.