If you’re a frequent online shopper (and let’s be honest, who isn’t in 2024) the Federal Trade Commission and United States Postal Inspection Service want you to be aware of a recent scam that has reached cellphones in Idaho, California and beyond. 

Chances are you’ve been through some sort of online training course at your job that familiarizes you with “phishing” scams. While those trainings may seem silly and time consuming, ultimately you should be glad that your employer makes you go through them. They may make you do them in hopes that you won’t click a malicious link and give a hacker access to their network. On the flip side, they’re also helping YOU avoid identity theft. 

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Often, scammers will send you what looks like an official looking e-mail with some sort of shipping or delivery notification. They’re hoping that whether or not you actually purchased an item, it’ll stir up your curiosity enough for you to click a link and give them things like usernames, passwords or a credit card number so that your package isn’t “returned to sender.” 

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Toward the end of last year, the amount of scammers running this sort of game via text message instead of email rose considerably. Because the scam is reaching you by SMS (short message service,) it’s being called “smishing.” The United States Postal Service has let customers know that scammers are impersonating them. 

YouTube/US Postal Inspection Service
YouTube/US Postal Inspection Service

That’s why they are trying to spread the message that the USPS will never reach out to you with one of these delivery texts without you asking them for something like a tracking number. You have to opt in for their tracking services and once you do, they say that their text messages will NOT contain a link. 

They’re also actively trying to take steps to shut down these scammers, so if you get a “smishing” text they want you to copy the body of the text into an e-mail and send it to spam@uspis.gov. They’d also like you to include details like the number it came from, if you did actually click the link and if doing so resulted in a loss of money or impacted your credit. 

Legitimate USPS tracking notifications, that you ONLY receive after you’ve requested them, are associated with the number 28777.

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