Watch for these red flags of scammers after your money and personal information.

If you’re like many consumers, you may have done more of your shopping online this year. After all, purchasing gifts online is a lot less stressful than elbowing your way through shopping masses or circling retail parking lots in search of the elusive parking space.

With packages coming from all directions and multiple retailers, it can be difficult to keep track of them all — and criminals are counting on you to click on links and/or download malware in text and email messages.

You don’t have to become a scammer’s next victim, though. This rundown of package delivery scams can help you send those scammers packing, keep your sensitive information safe, and make sure you keep your money in your own pocket.

Text and email messages asking for updates

I recently received a text message from an unidentifiable sender telling me that the shipping address on a package I sent was incomplete and to click a link to update it. I knew this was a scam since the last package I mailed was months ago, so I immediately deleted the message.

But scammers also like to do the reverse, telling you that a package you’re waiting on needs more information that you can add by clicking on a text or email message link. Don’t click on that link,  warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“Some consumers have recently been getting text messages stating a major delivery carrier needs them to ‘update delivery preferences’ on a package by clicking on a link,” says the BBB. “The text is a scam, and the link results in the theft of personal information.”

Find out: Watch Out for These Holiday Scams

Phony “missed delivery” tags

If you come home to a missed delivery tag flapping on your front door, don’t be too quick to call that number on the notice. Take a closer look to verify that it’s from FedEx or UPS or another shipper first.

“If you receive a missed delivery notice, examine the form carefully to make sure it is authentic and only then follow their instructions,” advises the BBB. “Keep track of what you’ve ordered, so you have a better idea of what is coming and when. Don’t click on any links. Go to the delivery carrier’s website directly or log in and use the retailer’s tracking tools.”

Password or account update requests

“Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information,” warns the FBI. “Look up the company’s phone number on your own and call the company.”

Here are three of the most common signs of shipping scams and fraud, according to FedEx:

  • Urgent, unexpected requests for money in return for a package delivery
  • Requests for personal and/or financial information
  • Links to websites with misspellings of the company name

Find out: 5 Tips for Safer, Smarter Online Shopping

Take these steps to avoid shipping scams

1. Verify a retailer’s website and URL

Before you order, make sure the website URL begins with “https,” which means your credit card information is secure. Also, make sure the website isn’t an “imposter” website that looks like the real thing until you examine it more closely.

2. Be wary of unusual shipping methods

“Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country,” warns the FBI.

3. Keep a log of tracking numbers

The FBI recommends always getting tracking numbers for the items you buy so you can keep track of the delivery process.

Porch Pirates Hauling Off a Huge Bounty

“Porch pirates” are out in full force looking for their own good deals – packages waiting at your front door. It’s not like porch pirates have been idle until now, though.

More than 35 million Americans say they’ve been victims of package theft and around 14% of Americans say they’ve been the victim of porch pirates stealing packages over the past 12 months, according to a new survey by Finder, a financial services company.

Here are some recent statistics on porch pirates and their favorite victims.

Americans lost billions of dollars to porch pirates

Americans lost about $5.4 billion from package theft in the last 12 months, according to the Finder survey. That’s nearly 36 million consumers staring at empty porches that once contained their pretty packages. The average value of stolen goods: $156.

Many victimized more than once

Most respondents to the Finder survey say they had packages stolen once (39%) or twice (36%) over the last year. Another 11% report being plundered by porch pirates three or more times. An unfortunate 5% were victimized at least five times.

More men than women were victims

More men (17%) than women (11%) told Finder that delivered items were stolen from them. The survey also found that the average cost of a stolen package was higher for men ($190) than the value reported by women ($111).

Millennials hit hardest by package theft

Around 22% of millennials reported having packages stolen by porch pirates, with 41% saying they had a package stolen within the last 12 months, according to the Finder survey.

The survey also found that millennials had the highest average value ($185.97) on items stolen, followed by Gen X ($165) and baby boomers ($124). In total, millennials lost about $2.7 billion to porch pirate theft. Gen X lost $1.6 billion, followed by baby boomers, who lost $0.7 billion.

Porch pirates targeted high earners

Consumers earning high salaries probably have more to spend on online purchases, so it’s not surprising these high earners also were more frequent victims of porch pirates.

Americans earning more than $120,000 a year led the way (27%) in reporting stolen packages for the Finder survey.

Those making $100,000 to $120,000 were also hit hard (25%). Meanwhile, only 12% of people earning between $20,000 and $60,000 annually reported packages stolen.

Porch pirate’s karma

Around  3% of respondents admitted stealing a package in the last 12 months. Of those who reported having a package stolen, around 1 in 10 fessed up to stealing someone else’s package themselves at least once.

Most porch pirates are men

Men are 522% more likely to resort to porch piratery than women, according to the Finder survey. Just over 5% of survey respondents who admitted stealing someone else’s package were men while less than 1% were women.

Opt for curbside pickup when you can

Want to avoid being ripped off by porch pirates? Finder recommends taking advantage of curbside pickup when you can to deter prowling porch pirates in your neighborhood. As of August, around 76% of the top 50 store-based retailers offered curbside pickup, according to Coresight Research.

Other porch pirate foil tips from Finder include having packages shipped to your workplace, installing surveillance cameras like a Ring doorbell, and asking neighbors to take or hide anticipated packages until you return home.

Get professional help to clean up errors in your credit report if you have been the victim of identity theft.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC