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Never Order a Package Online Without Doing This First, Experts Warn

When you're shopping online, this tip can make sure your boxes end up in the right hands.

Whether you're doing your holiday shopping or just reordering essentials, shopping online has become a part of everyday life. After all, who wants to spend their day running between stores when the same task can be achieved from the comfort of your couch? But even though having your purchases brought right to you can be convenient, shopping online still comes with its own separate set of potential headaches—especially when it comes to making sure you actually receive your items. Before you order your next package online, experts say there's one rule you should follow. Read on to see what you should be doing the next time you cash out your cart.

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Request a signature for delivery on any packages you order online.

woman signing for a package

Part of the magic of online shopping is that the items you want will be brought right to your front door, ideally in a matter of hours or days. But if you're not around to carry your packages inside, you could easily fall victim to "porch pirates" looking to snatch up your boxes before you do. One recent survey from Vivint, a smart home security company, found that at least 29 percent of people in the U.S. reported that they'd been the victim of package theft, adding up to an average of about $74 of stolen goods per person since the beginning of the pandemic.

Instead of risking it by leaving your items sitting outside all day long, experts suggest requesting a signature for delivery to make sure someone is around to receive the package and safely bring it inside. The extra step can save you time in the long run, especially true for any expensive or rare items you're purchasing that could be harder to replace or be reimbursed for later.

Try to consolidate shipments or delivery days so you can be around to receive your packages in person.

Delivery man holding parcel boxes and ring the doorbell on the client's door in the morning background.

If you haven't transitioned into a "work from home" schedule that makes waiting for packages super convenient, there's still a way to secure your deliveries without sacrificing your entire day waiting for the doorbell to ring. When completing checkout with major retailers like Amazon, make sure you also opt to consolidate your shipments into a few deliveries as possible.

And if you're shopping from more than one website, you're not totally out of luck: try to coordinate packages to arrive on the same day to avoid having to stick around for other delivery trucks to bring you your items. Sometimes, this can mean waiting to place all of your online shopping orders on the same day or choosing different shipping options at checkout.

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Use the "special instructions" box to have your packages dropped someplace safer than your front door.

Ordering online definitely increased during the pandemic as stores had to close. Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic

As anyone who has done enough online shopping knows, even the best-coordinated drop-off times can be inaccurate, making it unfeasible for people with busy schedules or lots of commitments to wait around to sign for packages. Instead of chancing it on a tight delivery window, try using the "special instructions" box while filling out your shipping information to request your package be dropped off someplace less risky such as a back door, with a superintendent, or even in a designated lockbox with a combination. Many major shipping services, including FedEx and UPS, can even have your package redirected to a specific safe drop spot such as a pharmacy or grocery store near you for little to no fee if your plans change last minute, according to Consumer Reports.

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Sign up for any text or email alerts on your package when your order it.

An unrecognizable woman uses a mobile app on her smart phone to prepare a package for mailing.

Moving boxes from coast to coast takes plenty of logistical coordination and organization. Luckily, this also means you can now see exactly where your package is well before it arrives to you, thanks to helpful shipping information attached to each order that follows it from the warehouse to your home.

If you don't feel like constantly checking a website for a delivery's status, you can also have notifications sent to you for where the package is and when it will be out for delivery. Just make sure to sign up for any text or email alerts to be sent to your phone when completing your order so you can effortlessly stay on top of exactly when it will arrive. That way, you'll be there to sign for it without having to second guess your delivery window.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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