Avoid Package Scams

cell phones displaying fictitious scam package delivery text messages

Set of three generic phones displaying fictitious scam package delivery text messages.

With the holidays approaching, many of us are making plans to send gifts or homemade baked goods to far-away friends and family. After all, nothing says “I’m thinking of you” like a package from a loved one. But the United States Postal Service warns that scammers are also busy this time of year, targeting both senders and recipients of packages.

Unfortunately, older adults are at increased risk of being victimized by these types of scams. And a recent study by the University of Michigan suggests that health status plays a role. Older adults who reported themselves to be in fair health or disabled were less confident in their ability to spot scams. Among the polled adults aged 50 through 80, 75% reported having been targeted by a scam in the last two years.

“Our findings of a strong connection between scam vulnerability and health adds important new data to ongoing efforts to reduce the devastating toll of scams on older adults’ finances and well-being,” said Healthy Aging poll director Jeffrey Kullgren. “We also found that no matter what their health status, older adults feel strongly that government and businesses should do more to educate and protect against scams.”

Know the common warning signs of a scam.

Urgent demands for money: Beware of urgent requests for money in exchange for package delivery. Scammers often rely on urgency to create a panic, so you act quickly before thinking about it.

Personal and financial requests: Be cautious when asked to provide personal or financial information.

Misspelled URLs or emails: Watch out for misspelled website addresses (URLs) such as or—which are fraudulent—or email addresses . Check your carrier’s website for information about which URLs they will use to communicate information about your package.

Errors and excessive punctuation: Stay alert to spelling, grammatical errors, or excessive capitalization and exclamation points.

Avoid the costly and heartbreaking crime of package fraud by staying informed and getting your shipping updates from a legitimate source. When you receive tracking information for your package, verify that it matches the details provided by the shipping company. Scammers often send fake tracking numbers and deceitful text messages.

Stay informed about common online scams and phishing tactics to recognize potential threats. Most shipping companies have information about fraud on their website. The AARP’s Fraud Watch Network (no membership required) has many tools for staying informed about fraud as well as steps to follow if you have been targeted.

“Fraud criminals are master manipulators of emotion, and anyone can experience a scam regardless of age, education, or income,” says Kathy Stokes, director of the Fraud Watch Network.

Remember that scammers often employ various tactics to trick consumers. Stay vigilant and cautious when sending and receiving packages during the holidays to help you avoid falling victim to packaging scams.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise with information from AARP

Categories: Health & Safety