A recent scam highlighted by some consumer programmes is when an unexpected parcel is delivered to your door.
You sign for the parcel and take it in, perhaps thinking it contains something you had forgotten you ordered, or perhaps your partner ordered it.
A few minutes later the phone rings. It’s the courier company explaining that they made a mistake and the parcel was incorrectly addressed to you. They have a courier in the area who can pick it up from you in a few minutes. You hand the parcel to the courier. And that is probably the last you think about it until you get an unexpected – and probably large – bill through your door.
So, how did you end up with an unexpected bill?
The scammer got hold of some of your personal data and used that information to order goods in your name to be delivered to your address. The goods themselves will probably be from a perfectly reputable supplier. For example, they may have ordered an expensive smartphone on a 24 month contract.
The first person who turned up at your door was a genuine courier. But the phone call came from the scammer. The second courier was also the scammer (or part of the same gang). So, when you handed over the unexpected package to the second “courier” you were giving it to the criminal who impersonated you. He or she has the goods but you owe the money for those goods.
Because the goods were ordered in your name, to your address and you signed to confirm receipt of those goods, it is difficult to prove that you did not order them.
Avoiding this scam is the best strategy. Obviously, you will want to take in any package you receive – it may be something you or someone else in your household ordered. But if you then receive a call explaining it was delivered in error, do not agree to hand it over. If the caller becomes threatening, tell them you suspect it to be a fraud and will be calling the police.
Contact the sender of the goods – details should be on the outside of the package or on a leaflet inside. Explain to them that you have been a victim of fraud. Ask them for details of how you can return the package to them via a genuine courier.
Also, contact Action Fraud or the police on 101, so that the police can log the incident, issue a crime reference number and gather intelligence about where and when this type of scam is being carried out.