/ Money

Scam watch: parcel fraud unpacked

In this month’s Which? Magazine, a member was told they needed to pay extra postage for a parcel… until Royal Mail confirmed it was a scam.

A member recently got in touch with us for Scam Watch last month when they received an email which appeared to come from Royal Mail.

The email said they’d need to pay extra postage for a parcel, but when the member followed the link and provided their details they started to feel a little uneasy, so headed to their local Post Office to check with them directly.

Think you’ve given a fraudster your details? Here’s what to do

The Post Office confirmed it was actually a scam, so the member quickly cancelled their credit card, luckily catching it in time before any money was taken.

Royal Mail’s response

I got in touch with Royal Mail, which said it’s aware of the scam, but can’t provide any details on just how widespread it is.

Greetings such as ‘Attention Royal Mail Customer’, accompanied by the Royal Mail logo and even an email address do not guarantee that the email has come from Royal Mail itself.

See all our advice on spotting and reporting scams

Scam emails often say there’s a parcel waiting to be collected and ask for payment before an item can be released for delivery, prompting you to open a link or document or asking you to send a text message or call a premium-rate phone number.

These are all phishing scams designed to trick you out of money or your personal details.

If you do get an email which you think is suspicious, you can always check whether it’s a valid request by contacting Royal Mail’s customer services online, or by calling it on 03457 740 740.

This contribution to Which? Conversation first appeared in the April 2019 edition of Which? Magazine (page 48 – Scam Watch).

Have you encountered this attempted postage/parcel scam? If so, how did you deal with it? If scammers have been in touch with you, please do report it to us below.

Comments

The far more convincing version of this scam is where the scammer sends a card by post or drops it through the letterbox, asking the recipient to phone a premium rate number to arrange for a fictitious package to be redelivered. This method is much more costly for the scammer, so it’s hardly surprising that the scammers have switched to e-mail, not least as the Royal Mail has itself started to send genuine e-mails about deliveries, giving greater plausibility to the scammers’ e-mails.

I used to get a lot of these that were so obviously targetted at the USA as different words would be used for the UK, but haven’t’ seen one for a while now.

I recently had a card through the mailbox requesting £2 as an item couldn’t be delivered.

Not knowing what it was, the only safe option was to go to the sorting office to retrieve the item. It turned out to be a letter without a stamp.

I would have let the post office return the letter to the sender….would have cost them a lot more than £2 and you would have got the letter eventually from a genuine sender a couple of days later.

Just think if we had a new version of Police 5 updated for the modern era and featuring scams. This story could feature and hopefully educate more people than are on twitter.

I haven’t heard of Police 5.

There are many programs that cover scams, but I don’t like the way they always seem to portray the victim as the ‘innocent’ victim being caught out through no fault of their own.

This may be true in some cases, but many victims become victims through their own stupidity and this also needs to be portrayed.

Otherwise how will people learn?

Never heard of…. Shaw Taylor?……. the basis of Crimewatch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KpfHPOA3jw

Today it would be Police 3 and filmed on a bodycam.

“Keep ’em peeled . . .” he would say as he addressed one eye with his forefinger and pointed it forward to the viewer(s). Did he wink? I can’t remember now.

Someone disagrees….. 🙁

Negated since your comment appears to be directed at my comment malcolm, but can’t think why anyone would mark it down.

Looking at your link, I now recognise Shaw Taylor from Crimewatch.

Thanks alfa, I hope Crimewatch will find the thumbs downer 🙂

I’ve just added two TsUp, as well.

Oops…looking at it I now see that could be misinterpreted.

Asking people to dial 03457 may be legal, but isn’t charging them money to wait in a telephone call centre queue itself a scam in an absolute sense? The more inefficient the company is, the more money it makes.
I wonder whether anyone has done a statistical study to work out an average value for the time people waste waiting in telephone call centre queues.

Bryan Houghton says:
13 April 2019

I received this email a couple of times, ironically whilst expecting a parcel, so it almost seemed right. I was very suspicious and in the end sent it on to the National Scam watch at the City of London police.

Peter Edwards says:
13 April 2019

If I received such an email I would wonder how Royal Mail had discovered my email address? Royal Mail deliver letters and parcels to physical addresses; surely they don’t have email addresses linked to those physical addresses?

Royal Mail might have your e-mail address if you have ever requested a postal re-delivery on-line or set up a redirection service on-line. RM should keep such data in a manner that is inaccessible to people who do not need to know it and ideally they should delete it after the function has been fulfilled.

Many people, including me, have registered their details with Royal Mail in order to simplify the re-delivery process. I have no idea how to revoke it and remove my e-mail address from their records.

Every organisation we do on-line business with can connect our e-mail address to our postal address; I don’t expect the Royal Mail is any less secure than other organisations but, as ever, bent employees can acquire data and use it or sell it for criminal purposes.

Mcj says:
14 April 2019

I have had notification from Royal mail of an impending parcel delivery by email so they got my email addy from somewhere maybe the sender passes it on. Most of the time the parcel gets delivered and then I find the email later on as not into emails first thing in the morning as got too much else to do before sitting down to relax on the computer. But like someone else said a lot of people do not stop to think if something looks a bit odd and find out if real safely, there is this I am safe mentality and do not need to think someone could mean harm when they should be on guard all the time no matter what they do, where they are etc, it is called survival instinct and it is not being used to suss out people faces actions or places.

Judy McK says:
17 April 2019

I have become increasingly suspicious as I’ve got older; I suspect any email I don’t recognise, any phone call from an unknown person – especially a silent one, any caller at our house and charity collections I don’t recognise. We are registered with the telephone preference service, but still get questionable calls, and I’ve reported 2 suspect calls to Action Fraud. We also keep our doors locked, even though we used to have an “open house.” The trust has disappeared; how sad is that?

Regarding handing over sensitive information over the phone, I complained to those responsible for the “Take Five” campaign who suggest taking five seconds to check that a cold caller is genuine.

My suggestion is never to speak to any cold caller or respond to any email with any information. Full stop.

The trouble is the Government is under pressure to allow “genuine” telesales companies to continue to pester us.

I received this RM phishing one today. Thing is, I was eagerly waiting for Royal Mail to deliver a recently purchased computer, so my first reaction was fury that they hadn’t rung the bell 🙂 I had clicked through to the website determined to give them a piece of my mind and refuse to pay the £3.95 before by brain started working again and I exited the website sharpish. I suppose the timing of the email could just be coincidence? But I receive very few of these emails and only buy something big like this every 8 years or so! So I feel suspicious regarding the timing of it.