Scam report: shipping pirates

March 15, 2011 by bkrenek

In the first of our ongoing series on scams to beware of, we call your attention to a con that leverages the trusted names of FedEx and UPS to rip off your business and customers.

The fraud works a couple of ways:

Scenario #1: Your customers are asked to click on an attachment with details of an alleged shipment.  Rather than any package, your customers receive a virus.

Scenario #2: Fraudsters get a hold of your UPS or FedEx accounts and then use this information to wreak havoc on your business and customers.  It’s not too difficult to access account information; in the case of UPS, account numbers are printed right on the shipping label.  Alternatively, thieves can hack into your company databases, or – if they’re an employee – simply find this information by employers who often freely distribute shipping account data.  Crooks then use the accounts to ship drugs and stolen products throughout the country, or send out fake advance payment checks to your customers, who are asked to first wire money as a part of the process.

The Chicago Tribune has reported a national increase in this scam, and notes that although UPS and FedEx work hard to investigate all fraud complaints and reimburse consumers, law enforcement officials tend not to investigate these crimes because they’re difficult to solve and often don’t involve high enough amounts of cash to make it worth their while.  Further, companies often don’t even realize they’ve been scammed if they don’t closely monitor their account records.  In the end, the loss of profits, consumer confidence, and employee productivity to repair the damage make these scams a huge headache for business owners.

What can businesses do to protect themselves?

1.      Carefully guard your shipping account information and be careful about how this sensitive data is handled.

2.      Keep close track of your accounts with your shipping vendors.

3.      Alert customers when there’s been a breach so they understand how to be on the lookout for future scams.

With some precautions, your business can safely navigate through hazardous shipping channels without fear of data piracy.