RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s a costly mistake that happens more and more often around the area – falling for a fake package delivery notice.
Consumer watchdog organizations like the NC Consumers Council say complaints about the scam are on the rise.
The fake missed delivery notices are being sent by text, email, and delivery via mailbox or right on your doorstep in the form of a doorknob hanger placard.
They are all pretty much the same.
You receive a notice saying while you were out someone tried to deliver a package.
In reality, there is no package.
That missed delivery notice was placed on the door of a Raleigh woman this week, except she was home at the time she got the hand-delivered message.
“I was sitting on the couch when I saw this woman through the door window,” said Gail Mann. “I opened the door—looked for a package and saw something hanging on the door.”
Mann said she then looked out the window watched and watched the woman who had hung the notice on her door walk down the street.
She said she saw no delivery truck, and noticed the woman had has a stack of placards in her hand – identical to the missed delivery placard that was placed on her’s front door.
That was enough to make Mann wary.
She said she didn’t call the number on the placard because, “I watch your show and I see people are scammed all the time and I thought maybe this was something suspicious.”
It turns out, reverse phone lookup shows the number comes back to a landline in Greensboro with no company name indicated.
In an effort to get more information about that number, consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia called it while sitting at the dining room table in Mann’s home as she looked on.
A “so-called” dispatcher refused to give Sbraccia any information.
“She wouldn’t give you the name of the dispatch company,” said Mann. “She wouldn’t tell you who wrote her paycheck. She wouldn’t give you the name of the company.”
“That’s suspicious,” said Matt Oliver of the NC Consumers Council.
As Oliver listened in, Sbraccia called the number again, this time giving the call taker a fake name, fake address, and fake zip code. And with all that fake info, she found my “package” based on its “tracking number.”
“They didn’t know the info you gave them was fake—yet they somehow found it,’’ said Oliver.
Turns out the tracking number gets you a complimentary bottle of a laundry product —so long as you give up some personal information.
When the call taker/ dispatcher asked for that info, Sbraccia hung up.
“They’re probably are going to sign you up for some sort of recurring billing,” said Oliver. “In order to get that free sample, you’ll need to provide some sort of financial info—a credit card, bank account number or something. That’s when the charges start.”
As Oliver said, if they really wanted to give you a free sample they could have left it on the doorstep.
If you get tricked and do sign up for something like that, experts say you’ll find it almost impossible to stop them from charging you.
Even if you aren’t caught by the deceptive practices, you should report the fake package message to the Federal Trade Commission or the North Carolina Attorney General so they can take action against these individuals.
The FBI also tracks down companies that use the internet to commit a crime and you can file a complaint with its Internet Crime Center which goes by the name Ic3.