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Scam alert: Beware of fake shipping emails

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Did you receive an unexpected email, claiming a package is waiting for you? This may be a scam, especially if you didn’t order anything recently. Email scams have reached epidemic levels these day, making them common faceless crimes.

The shipping email scam is not new, but it seems to be cropping up again. In fact, Wisconsin’s WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) just issued a consumer warning on the topic.

“Be on the lookout for fake shipping emails that appear to be from a ‘shipping manager’ for a delivery company such as USPS or UPS or from major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart or Costco,” reads the recent DATCP alert.

The fraudulent email generally says a shipment has arrived, but that the recipient must complete a form to obtain the package. The form, linked in the message, asks for confidential identity information. In some cases, the email explains how a fee may be required for delivery – or even a penalty for late response.

Often, email recipients who click the link in the message have reported subsequent malware or virus attacks on their computers, as well as identity theft and fraud.

What can you do, if you receive a mysterious email about a possible package?

Smart email users never click unknown links in incoming messages, especially from unfamiliar senders. Instead of clicking the links, savvy readers copy the http coding and place it in internet search bars (not internet browser bars). The search results may provide plenty of clues about the site to which the coding leads.

Clicking the sender’s name at the top of an email reveals that person’s address, which often provides clues of authenticity or fraud.

Email recipients who spot fraudulent messages or scams can flag and report them to their internet providers and to the Department of Agricultural, Trade, and Consumer Protection in their own states.

Reminder: If you are expecting an actual parcel, or if you believe a shipping notification is genuine, you will likely find additional information by contacting the sender or the shipping company directly. Online package tracking is simple and very accessible.

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