Have you received unsolicited mobile text messages with an unfamiliar or strange web link that indicates a USPS delivery requires a response from you? If you never signed up for a USPS tracking request for a specific package, then don’t click the link! This type of text message is a scam called smishing.
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. USPS utilizes the 5-digit short codes to send and receive SMS to and from mobile phones.
The criminals want to receive personally identifiable information (PII) about the victim such as: account usernames and passwords, Social Security number, date of birth, credit and debit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), or other sensitive information. This information is used to carry out other crimes, such as financial fraud.
The Postal Service offers free tools to track specific packages, but customers are required to either register online, or initiate a text message, and provide a tracking number. USPS does not charge for these services! USPS will not send customers text messages or e-mails without a customer first requesting the service with a tracking number, and it will NOT contain a link. So, if you did not initiate the tracking request for a specific package directly from USPS and it contains a link: don’t click the link!
If you suspect the text message you have received is suspicious but are expecting a parcel, please do not click on any links. Rather, report it and visit USPS.com from your mobile device or computer for tracking and additional resources.
Tips to recognize phishing from other companies
Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
- claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
- say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
- include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
- want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
- say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
- offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real
Here’s a real-world example of a phishing email:
Imagine you saw this in your inbox. At first glance, this email looks real, but it’s not. Scammers who send emails like this one are hoping you won’t notice it’s a fake.
Here are signs that this email is a scam, even though it looks like it comes from a company you know — and even uses the company’s logo in the header:
- The email has a generic greeting.
- The email says your account is on hold because of a billing problem.
- The email invites you to click on a link to update your payment details.
While real companies might communicate with you by email, legitimate companies won’t email or text with a link to update your payment information. Phishing emails can often have real consequences for people who give scammers their information, including identity theft. And they might harm the reputation of the companies they’re spoofing.
How to Report Phishing
HOW TO REPORT USPS Related SMISHING:
To report USPS related smishing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Without clicking on the web link, copy the body of the suspicious text message and paste into a new email.
- Provide your name in the email, and also attach a screenshot of the text message showing the phone number of the sender and the date sent.
- Include any relevant details in your email, for example: if you clicked the link, if you lost money, if you provided any personal information, or if you experienced any impacts to your credit or person.
- The Postal Inspection Service will contact you if more information is needed.
- Forward the smishing/text message to 7726 (this will assist with reporting the scam phone number).
Complaints of non-USPS related smishing can also be sent to any of the following law enforcement partners of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service:
- • Forward to 7726 (this will assist with reporting the scam phone number).
- • The Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
- • The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI), Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3) at https://www.ic3.gov/complaint
For more information about these services and other products, please visit USPS TEXT TRACKING FAQs:https://www.usps.com/text-tracking/welcome.htm
To protect yourself and others from consumer frauds, visit our fraud prevention page: www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/mail-fraud/.