Online shopping has exploded in popularity over the last few years, with consumers enjoying being able to shop from the comfort of their home and be assured that their purchases will arrive safely. However, as the busy Christmas shopping season draws closer, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning that consumers can expect to see fake shipping invoices pop up in their inboxes.
“They look good,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for the BBB Serving Mainland BC. “They have all the right logos and images, and look really spiffy.” A giveaway that the “invoices” are not legitimate, however, is that the English can be very bad. “They don’t make sense to read.”
The fake invoices can contain links that customers are asked to click on, and these could infect your computer with spamware or malware. Other invoices claim there is an issue with your delivery, and ask you to input credit card information, while some ask for your social insurance number. Kelly says that if someone has your name, address, and SIN, they can use that information to set up fake bank accounts in your name, which could negatively impact your credit rating.
A consumer recently forwarded a screen shot of a fake Canada Post invoice to the BBB. “Canada Post does not email consumers unless it is requested,” says Kelly.
“If there is a delivery and you’re not at home they will leave a card in your mailbox or at your door.” He adds that it is not just Canada Post that is targeted: “If you have a business shipping things, you’ll be affected.”
Fake invoices are a year-round issue, but Kelly says that consumers can expect the scam to increase as Christmas approaches. “We definitely see it ramp up now.” However, there are steps you can take to ensure you don’t become a victim. These include reading the email carefully and looking for poor grammar and questionable links; being wary of notices such as “Download invoice now or delivery will be cancelled”; and making sure emails are from the actual company you ordered from (for example, amazon.com, not email@example.com).
Before you shop, read the company’s terms and conditions for delivery. If you receive an email about a delivery, sign into your account to see if the details of your order match the invoice. If you have any concerns, contact the shipping company directly and ask if the invoice is legitimate.