Beware of Strangers Bearing Gifts

Pacific Federal CU- Delivery Scam

Yes, yet another scam to watch out for, and this scam is very clever. This time: Beware of couriers bearing gifts.

The scam begins with a phone call from someone saying he or she is from a courier company. The person asks if you are going to be home to receive a package that requires your signature. The caller says the delivery will arrive at your home in roughly an hour.

Sure enough, in about an hour, a uniformed delivery man turns up with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. It may not be a special occasion or holiday, and you are probably not expecting anything. When you ask who the sender is, the courier replies, “I don’t know, I’m only delivering the package.” He explains that a greeting card has been sent separately.

However, there is a consignment note with the gift. The courier explains that because the gift contains alcohol, there is a $3.50 “delivery/verification charge,” providing proof that he has actually delivered the package to an adult (of legal drinking age), and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounds logical. If you offer to pay him in cash, he will tell you that the delivery company requires payment by credit or debit card only, so there will be a legal record of the transaction. And, he adds, “Couriers don’t carry cash, to avoid loss or becoming targets for robbery.”

He asks you to swipe your credit/debit card on a small mobile card machine with a small screen and keypad where he asks you to enter your PIN number. He prints out a receipt, gives you a copy of the transaction and leaves.

When you check that account for the $3.50 transaction, you’ll find that perhaps thousands of dollars have been fraudulently charged or withdrawn at various ATM machines. During your transaction, the delivery man’s “mobile credit card machine” collected all the information the scammer needed to create a dummy card with all your card details including your PIN.

All you can do at that point is notify your credit union or bank and close the credit/debit card account. You should also call the police and report the scam.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package,” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know the sender or if there is no proper identification of who the sender is. Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiate the purchase or transaction!