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Doing your holiday shopping early? Are you ready for package delivery humbugs?

Experts offer suggestions on how to prevent theft and scams

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Photo (c) CY Brain - Getty Images
Anyone who is doing their holiday shopping early, heads up! Two new studies show there may be trouble on the way.

One says that one in seven experience package theft; another says that shipping scams are mounting up, adding another layer of woe.

In C+R Research’s latest annual package theft report, more than a quarter of Americans said they’re concerned that they could lose their gifts to porch pirates. And those thefts can be costly, too, with the average value of stolen packages ringing up at $112.30.

Where you live apparently matters to thieves. According to C+R, thieves may be zip code snobs. The researchers said that about half (49%) of those who’ve had a package stolen live in the suburbs, 39% are city dwellers, and 12% live in rural areas.

Delivery services are on alert, too

Unfortunately for delivery services, they’ve got two problems. One is that nearly half of those surveyed don’t think retailers and delivery companies do enough to prevent package theft. The other is that scammers seem to be loving delivery scams like there’s no tomorrow.

According to its latest Brand Phishing Report, Check Point Research (CPR) says hackers are imitating one major shipper and one major retailer in attempts to lure people into giving up personal data. 

DHL places at the top of the list for most impersonated, accounting for 22% of all phishing attempts worldwide. DHL also has a make-believe affiliate named “BHL” that some scammers are using to leverage cybertheft, too.

Another major firm scammers are impersonating is Walmart, which has 5% of all phishing attacks globally.

How consumers can protect themselves and their packages

To beat porch pirates at their game the C+R researchers said there are several things consumers can do to protect their online purchases.

“If you know a package is expected to be delivered – be diligent in collecting it as soon as possible to lessen the opportunity for porch pirates to steal it,” the researchers suggested.

“That's why most people (60%) keep a close eye on delivery tracking, and 43% sign up for delivery alerts.”

Some consumers stay home when they know a package is on the way, but not everyone can afford to do that. In those situations, the researchers suggest more preventative measures, such as installing a doorbell camera, sending the package to their workplace or a relative’s home, or opting to pick up their online order in the store.

When it comes to packages being delivered, many – if not most – consumers simply don’t know if DHL, UPS, the Postal Service, Amazon, or FedEX is in charge of the delivery.

“DHL is the brand most likely to be imitated, it’s crucial that anyone expecting a delivery goes straight to the official website to check progress and/or notifications,” Omer Dembinsky, Data Research Group Manager at Check Point said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. 

“Do not trust any emails, particularly those asking for information to be shared. In [the latest quarterly analysis], we saw a dramatic reduction in the number of phishing attempts related to LinkedIn, which reminds us that cybercriminals will often switch their tactics to increase their chances of success.”

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