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Gephardt: Beware of texts offering refunds for delayed Christmas gifts

By Matt Gephardt, KSL TV | Posted - Dec. 31, 2020 at 8:28 a.m.



SANDY — A record number of people shopped online for Christmas this year, and scammers noticed many didn't receive their orders before the big day. Several consumers reported getting some variation of a text message saying they were due a refund with a link attached to it. Whatever you do, don't click on it.

A present ordered for Haleigh Robinson, 10, didn't make it in time to be under the tree. When both of her parents got a text message stating that they were due a refund, they wondered if it could be legitimate.

Haleigh's mom said she clicked a link in the text message which asked her to enter a username and password.

With that, she became suspicious and called the KSL Investigators to look into it.

The answer is no, it was not legit!

ID thieves have plagued the shipping industry, especially in 2020, because so much Christmas shopping was done online as consumers avoided crowded stores during the pandemic.

FedEx told KSL-TV it does not send unsolicited text messages to customers requesting money, package or personal information.

"Unfortunately, scammers often invoke the names of trusted brands when attempting to take advantage of the public," FedEx said. "Any suspicious text messages or emails should be deleted without being opened."


Unfortunately, scammers often invoke the names of trusted brands when attempting to take advantage of the public.

–FedEx


UPS said it monitors for and provides customers with information on scams.

"UPS does not request payments, personal information, financial information, account numbers, IDs, passwords, or copies of invoices in an unsolicited manner through email, mail, phone, or fax or specifically in exchange for the transportation of goods or services," a spokesperson wrote.

The US Postal Inspector Service put out an article on the fraudulent practice in late October.

Consumer advocates, like Secret Service Special Agent Tom Edwards, have been trying to get the word out about a spike in scams targeting people who are feeling desperate — like a parent desperate for a Christmas present to arrive — as well as many scams related to COVID-19.

"We've seen phishing emails that are related to medical supplies, like ventilators and masks," he said. "We've also seen treatment scams of people offering treatments or solutions to COVID."

Folks who click on the links are taken to websites where they are asked to enter things like usernames, passwords, or credit card info – which is then collected by identity thieves.

"They can steal their personal information and their credit card information for fraudulent use," Edwards said.

What to do

If you are missing a package, the best advice is to contact the shipper directly at a number or email that you know belongs to them.

FedEx said any suspicious text messages or emails should be deleted and never opened. Then report them to abuse@fedex.com.

For more tips on detecting online scams, visit the FedEx Customer Protection Center.

The U.S. Postal Service said if you get a text message that claims to be from the USPS, notify the United States Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 to report the incident.

In the case of Amazon.com, they discourage customers from trying to find a telephone number on search engines like Google because scammers have been known to dupe victims into calling the scammer rather than Amazon. Instead, Amazon encouraged customers to log in to their Amazon account and use the "Contact Us" link for information or questions about a shipment.

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Matt Gephardt

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