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Have you received an unsolicited text appearing to be from the postal service, claiming you have an undelivered package? Here’s why that message is a scam.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers packages to millions of Americans every day.
But what happens if your package is undeliverable?
A member of the VERIFY team recently received an odd text message from an unknown phone number that said: “The USPS package has arrived at the warehouse and cannot be delivered due to incomplete address information. Please confirm your address in the link.”
A link was shared in the text, with instructions on how to open it because it wasn’t clickable from the text message. The text message ended with: “The US Postal team wishes you a wonderful day!”
VERIFY reader Julia also emailed us wanting to know more about these unsolicited messages appearing to be from the USPS. We also found several Facebook posts from people who claim they received similar texts. They wondered if the texts were legitimate.
Does the USPS send unsolicited text messages about undeliverable packages?
No, the USPS does not send text messages about undeliverable packages. Those messages are scams.
WHAT WE FOUND
This type of scam is known as “smishing,” according to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the law enforcement arm of the USPS.
“Smishing is a form of phishing that involves a text message or phone number. Victims will typically receive a deceptive text message that is intended to lure the recipient into providing their personal or financial information. These scammers often attempt to disguise themselves as a government agency, bank, or other company to lend legitimacy to their claims,” USPIS says on their website.
In the case of the text received by VERIFY and others, the text messages appear to come from the United States Postal Service. The link in the text redirects to a fake USPS website, asking for additional information and a redelivery fee.
Customers will only receive notifications like text messages and emails from the USPS if they signed up for them, a USPS spokesperson told VERIFY partner station 11Alive.
“These are fraudulent text messages claimed to be from the postal service for packages that include a link. Do not click the link. Customers can sign up for Informed Delivery to track their mail and packages,” the USPS spokesperson told 11Alive. Informed Delivery is a service provided by USPS to better track and maintain packages.
When a VERIFY team member received this text message, we took a good look at the sender information and content of the text message and found multiple red flags.
First, the phone number sending the message was not an American number. The phone number was an international phone number – international phone numbers have international calling codes ahead of the mobile prefix. In the U.S., the international calling code is +1 and there is no mobile prefix, because the U.S. has area codes.
This phone number, according to the calling code and prefix, originated in Malaysia.
Next, we took a look at the body of the text and found there were a number of grammatical errors. This is often indicative of a scam.
Lastly, the link in the text message wasn’t to any official USPS tracking website, like Informed Delivery. The link also wasn’t clickable from the text message, but instead the recipient is asked to follow a set of prompts in order to get to the link. These are all red flags for scammers to access vulnerable information. And, the USPIS says the USPS would never send a text that includes a link in the first place.