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Beware of scams on deliveries.

Beware of phony package notifications: 'tis the season for phony emails that deliver nothing but trouble, warns the AARP Bulletin. Along with holiday decorations and lights, FedEx, UPS, and DHL trucks adorn American streets at this time of the year, and that provides the perfect opportunity for scammers to deliver fake notifications that there Is a package waiting for you.

In the most common ploy, an e-mail purporting to be from a well-known courier service--or even the U.S. Postal Service--contains a link that supposedly will bring up information about a package that cannot be delivered or that will let you print a copy of the delivery order.

If you click on the link, you may download any of a number of malicious Trojan computer infections. Some slow your computer's performance and trigger phony security alerts, followed by pop-up offers to sell you fake antivirus protection--what Is known as scareware. Others are far more dangerous, unleashing keystroke loggers that allow the hackers who sent the mail to capture your passwords and online banking and credit card information.

A newer version of the delivery ruse, which recently triggered a warning by Binghamton, N.Y., police, are e-mails that make the same phony claim of an en route package, but with a request that you purchase insurance on it, via a credit card or money order. "Once citizens give their credit card number," police say, "they may lose money, and there is little chance of recovering it." In addition, scammers can make more fraudulent online charges on that account.

In another ploy, postcards are left at your front door bearing a "sorry we missed you" message and instructions to call a phone number to arrange delivery, but call the number and you may be told you won a free vacation or some other prize--and be asked for a credit card number to pay a "small fee" to deliver your tickets or winnings. (Last Christmas, a Better Business Bureau chapter president received one of these bogus notifications at his home, triggering a nationwide warning.)

Be especially on guard if the call-back number has an area code of 876, 809, or 284. These may seem all-American, but actually are for Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the British Virgin Islands, respectively. Make those calls and you can expect long waits and transfers intended to rack up your phone bill--the per-minute rate may be four dollars or more, some of which flows to foreign phone companies and the scammers. Other area codes used in offshore calling cons include 441,473, 664, 758, 784, and 868.

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Title Annotation:Christmas Packages
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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