MOLINE, Ill. — With the continued popularity of online shopping, package scams aren’t just on the rise: scammers are using more techniques to exploit your information and attempt to steal your money, according to experts.

Merry late Christmas?

Even one of our team members here at WQAD was affected by an unusual scam.

Inside was a small Christmas stocking, something he never ordered.

The USPS calls this a ‘brushing scam.’

The scammer uses your name and address to order the product from a retailer like Amazon.

When the package is successfully sent, that makes them a ‘verified buyer’ of the item and lets the scammer write a fake review.

“Never pay additionally for shipping if you’re being asked to do so, especially if you buy something on Amazon,” shopping expert Trae Bodge said. “That payment should be in full. You should not expect to pay anything else.”

The USPS website says if the package isn’t dangerous, you are free to keep the item, but recommends changing your passwords and monitoring sensitive accounts like credit card bills, as your information may be compromised.

Additionally if you know the retailer the item was ordered from, you can file a fraud report with them.

If however, the package contains organic products or is otherwise suspicious, the USPS recommends contacting the authorities.

Watch those texts

Scammers are using various methods to scam people, from fake websites to spam phone calls. Currently the most popular method is scam text messages.

According to research from Robokiller, a company that offers phone spam blocking, the total amount of delivery scam texts from 2022 is expected to exceed 13 billion. That is more than the expected number of banking, COVID-19, travel, and hardware sweepstakes scam texts combined.

To avoid these scam texts, Bodge recommended keeping an eye out for spelling and punctuation errors.

She also said to read website links closely, and not click on any that appear unusual.

Additionally, she recommended to be vary cautious of odd payment requests.

“Sometimes people are reached out by an individual or retailer and they say ‘oh, can you pay us the balance in a gift card?’ If you’re ever asked to pay in a gift card, that’s a huge red flag,” Bodge said.

She added if you do become a victim to a package scam, and you paid for something through a credit card, you can contact your credit card company and dispute the charge.

Robokiller also predicts that over $28 billion will be lost due to scam texts in 2022.

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