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With more people shopping online, many fraudsters are targeting internet users by sending emails and text messages that impersonate courier companies. Don’t be duped. 

We provide information to help navigate today’s digital world and provide the tools to avoid scams, like courier scams designed to obtain personal or financial details of the person receiving them.

Several different tricks are used to do this. Fake shipping emails, for example, may send a phony tracking number or request additional postage payment for a package. They may send files that appear to be invoices or claim forms.

How the scams work

Scammers send emails or text messages that direct you to a fake website and then ask for your payment details. If it is a text, it may even download a malicious app to your phone that can steal your information. Some messages claim that a well-known courier company has tried to deliver a parcel while you were out and ask you to click on a link to rearrange delivery. Another type of scam has a text message asking you to click on a link to approve a pick-up time for a package.

There is often a spike in these types of delivery scams around Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Christmas and other holidays. 

You’ve received a scam message, what next?

  1. Don’t respond to the message, and don’t open any links that might be included.
  2. Report it to the official courier company and to the South African Police Services.
  3. Block the scammer’s email address by marking it as junk mail.
  4. Delete the message immediately.

What if you’ve already clicked on the link?

Don’t panic but act quickly. Go online using a different device, change the passwords for your accounts and enable multi-factor authentication. Check for malware on the device. Malware is malicious software such as a computer virus. If you’ve opened the link on your mobile phone, contact your phone company for advice on how to check for and remove malware. 

You may wish to reset your device to remove malware but be aware that a factory reset will wipe all your data including photos, videos and documents on the device.

If you have shared any bank account information or used your credit card to make a payment, contact your bank immediately.

Think before you act

Examine all courier emails and texts carefully before acting on them. When you receive a shipping alert, look for warning signs and, if in doubt, verify tracking numbers on the shipper’s official website. You can also confirm requests by calling a known, trusted customer service number.

When it comes to personal data of any sort: if in doubt, don’t give it out!

About the Author

Del van Rooyen
Chief Information Security Officer, Sasfin Holdings Limited

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