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

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If you’re like many consumers, you may have done more of your shopping online this holiday season. After all, purchasing gifts online is a lot less stressful than elbowing your way through holiday 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 being so flustered with holiday festivities and stressors that you 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 holiday 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 4 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 Holiday Shopping

Take these steps to avoid holiday 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.

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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.

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