USPS Postal Inspector Reveals How to Prevent Identity Theft
A widely circulating text scam could do serious damage.
We trust the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) with a lot of important things, including letters to loved ones and sensitive financial information. But one circulating text scam involving the USPS could put your private data into less trustworthy hands—allowing criminals to use it to steal your money or open fraudulent accounts in your name. To avoid this, scam experts are warning about what to be on the lookout for, and how you can avoid getting tricked. Read on to discover how USPS postal inspectors say you can prevent identity theft.
People have been receiving scam texts about USPS delivery problems.
Have you received a text about your USPS package being stuck in a warehouse? You're not alone.
Over the past few months, countless people have taken to social media to share similar texts they've been sent concerning delivery problems.
"I recently received a text saying a USPS package arrived at the warehouse but was undeliverable due to incomplete address. It then provided a link to fill out," one user posted to X on Aug. 23.
Another person shared nearly the same story a few days earlier, in an Aug. 14 Reddit post. "I got a text saying USPS failed to deliver my package and saying to confirm my address at a link," they wrote.
The incidents go back several months. A different Reddit user posted about the same warehouse message in a June 14 thread, asking, "Does USPS send these kind of texts?"
A postal inspector says this is a scam.
No, the Postal Service doesn't send these kind of texts. In an Aug. 28 interview with Missouri-based KY3, USPS Postal Inspector Paul Shade said that the warehouse text is a scam that could cost people their identity and money.
"These scams are often an attempt to impersonate a government agency or bank in order to lend legitimacy to their claims," Shade told the news outlet.
According to Malware Tips, this specific scam prompts victims to click a link to confirm personal details in order to get their package shipped. The link in the text directs you to a fake USPS website designed to steal whatever data you enter—and these criminals are looking for your personal or financial information, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) warns on its website.
"The criminals want to receive personally identifiable information (PII) about the victim such as: account usernames and passwords, Social Security number, date of birth, credit and debit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), or other sensitive information," the USPIS explains. "This information is used to carry out other crimes, such as financial fraud."
He also revealed how you can prevent identity theft.
This specific USPS scam has "already resulted in thousands of cases of identity theft and severe financial consequences," Malware Tips reported. The most important protective measure you can employ is knowing exactly how the agency will contact you.
If there's a problem delivering a package, Shade told KY3 that customers will receive a physical letter about it.
"We have thousands and thousands of carriers out there, and they would leave a notification on your door if that were the case," he said.
It is possible to receive texts from the USPS, Shade noted—but you have to be the one to initiate it.
"The only time you are going to receive any correspondence via text from the Postal Service is if you have signed up for it," Shade told KY3. "You won't receive anything unsolicited from the Postal Service. So, you have to opt in."
On its website, the USPIS confirms that customers can prevent identity theft by remembering this. "Never give personal information over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact," the agency advises.
There are other red flags you can look out for, too.
When Best Life reached out to the USPS about the warehouse text scam, postal inspector Michael Martel confirmed that the agency does offer free tools to track packages. If there's an issue with your delivery, you may be notified about it via text, but only if you've signed up for notifications.
"Customers are required to either register online, or initiate a text message, and provide a tracking number," he said.
Martel said there are two other red flags customers can look out for as well: payment requests and unsolicited links.
"USPS does not charge for these services," he noted. Also, the agency "will not send customers text messages or e-mails without a customer first requesting the service with a tracking number, and it will not contain a link."
Martel concluded, "So, if you did not initiate the tracking request for a specific package directly from USPS and it contains a link: don't click the link."
The Postal Service is asking people to report these scams.
If you've received one of these warehouse texts, don't just delete it. Instead, Martel said that customers should report USPS-related smishing scams like this to the agency's inspection branch. You can do this by sending an email to [email protected].
"Without clicking on the web link, copy the body of the suspicious text message and paste into a new email," he explained. "Provide your name in the email, and attach a screenshot of the text message showing the phone number of the sender and the date sent."
Martel advised people to also include "any relevant details" in their email, like whether or not you clicked the link, lost money, provided any personal information, or experienced any impacts to your credit or identity.
"The Postal Inspection Service will contact you if more information is needed," he said.