/ Scams

Scam watch: a case of ‘mistaken’ delivery

Fraudsters can use stolen personal details to open credit accounts with a retailer, then intercept the delivery. Here’s how it works and what to do if you’re affected.

An unnamed parcel from an online retailer was delivered to Phil’s home address, containing a games console that he’d never ordered. Shortly after, a man in a high-vis jacket, featuring a courier logo, knocked at the door, with a van idling at the end of the drive.

He asked if Phil had just received something that wasn’t his, saying that there’d been a mistake. Because Phil had just admitted that he hadn’t ordered it, he reluctantly handed the parcel over. He then contacted the retailer, only to be told that a store account had been opened in his name and had been used to make the order.

Identity fraud

By using stolen personal details to open a credit account with a retailer, fraudsters can order high-value goods, intercept the delivery and get away with little trace, leaving you to pick up the bill.

The scammers probably received delivery updates to their phone or email, letting them know when it was likely to be delivered, while waiting nearby in the van that Phil spotted. On the upside, Phil told us that the retailer has been helpful and did everything right to get the situation resolved for him. It quickly investigated, confirmed that this was a case of identity fraud and fully reimbursed him, with an apology.

It also signed Phil up to the Cifas Protective Registration service, which usually costs £25 for two years. Being signed up to the service means any future credit applications made in his name will go through extra checks to make sure they’re not fraudulent before they’re approved.

Protective Registration

Unfortunately, if you’ve been ‘successfully’ targeted once, there’s a higher chance it could happen again. More and more banks, lenders and retailers are automatically offering to cover the cost of Protective Registration for victims affected by failings in their security checks.

If you fall victim to identity theft, ask the company involved to register you with the service. It’s also important that it removes any fraudulent lines of credit opened in your name from your credit file, so it doesn’t affect your credit score.

Have you been affected by this type of fraud? If so, how did the retailer deal with the situation? Let us know in the comments.

BruceB says:
18 January 2022

You have to wonder when the banks will decide to sign up their more vulnerable customers (for they must have data) to Cifas Protective Registration as an economy measure.

Venetia Lynch says:
21 January 2022

I would like to sign up to the protective Cifas. How can I do this is it through the bank? I feel £25 for 2 years is worth it. I’m 81 and appalled by scams and frauds. Help please?

Venetia — You can sign up to Cifas Protective Registration via their website.

Go to https://www.cifas.org.uk/ and follow the links > “I am an individual and I need help” [on the home page] > “Apply for a protective registration” > “Protective registration form”.

Claire says:
11 March 2022

Today I got an email from Royal Mail (same address I get all my parcel notifications from) telling me when my parcel from “Sports Smart Ltd” would be delivered. I have not ordered anything from anything like this, and the only record I can find of the company is here: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/12598087/officers

I’m convinced it’s this scam, and intend to refuse delivery; and if anyone shows up after that, not open the door to them. I changed the delivery for a day when I’ll be in all day, as I didn’t want a neighbour accepting on my behalf. I’m also considering asking my dad to be here that day to make me feel safer. However I’m concerned about being charged anyway (which would likely exceed my credit limit), and if the scammers have more details than my email and postal addresses.