Consumers should beware of a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) text message "smishing" scam that sends unexpected alerts about a supposed package delivery issue. "Smishing" is the term the Postal Service uses for a kind of text message fraud, combining both SMS (an abbreviation for "Short Message Service") and phishing into one word.
Such scams seek to compromise personal and financial information. Never click the links in these text messages. The best course of action is to delete them. The incidents can be reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which "protects the U.S. Postal Service and enforces the law that ensure public safety within the nation's mail system."
How the Scam Works
The Postal Service text message scam usually claims there's an unspecified problem with delivering a package, and, because of that issue, it "cannot be delivered." In order to resolve the issue, the messages ask for payment or fees (sometimes $1.99 or $3), and for the recipient to update their personal financial information on a scammy website.
The texts usually include a link to one of these scammy websites that might show letters from the USPS acronym, such as "USP," in its URL. Such websites have been designed to look just like the official post office website, USPS.com. However, unless a website's URL contains the exact spelling of USPS.com, it's likely a scam.
Common language in the text messages found in these scams include several different variations. Below are text messages that social media users reported receiving in May 2022, all of which led to fraudulent websites. We bolded the "USP" that's included in many of the linked websites' addresses.
Your courier cannot be delivered correctly, due to the wrong house number, Please confirm that the information will be delivered. https://usprenewal.com
@USPS; As a reminder, A package needs your attention (3.00 $ unpaid fee). Please complete the process here: https://s.gosite.com/3tbvx87k
Your courier cannot be delivered correctly, due to the wrong house number, Please change it in time. https://uspimprovement.com
Your courier cannot be delivered and needs to update a valid address. https://sharpusp.com/NMfU
Your package is temporarily undeliverable due to the wrong delivery address, please update your information via this link. https://uspdaxkb.com
We are sorry for your courier and we are unable to complete the shipment due to the wrong delivery address. https://abreastusp.com/pzgH
(USPS services) Your shipping address is invalid. please update https://qrco.de/wsK3u?trackingid=DUFuYoJp
/USPS services/ We can't delivery your package at this time https:/ l.ead.me/cbea6
[U.S. Postal Service] Endorsements for Package Undeliverable as Address. Please check the address to arrange another delivery attempt. https://us.re-send.host
Dear Customer urgent notification regarding the USPS delivery S46K5 From 03/23/2022 . Check Here : https://canvernowordereminder.com/US8371/#USPS Service
We've failed to ship your package, for reshipment please visit https://reshipmentusps.com and confirm the compensation of (1.99)
All of the text messages we reviewed in the Postal Service scam appeared to have been written with poor grammar. Further, messages that mentioned a specific owed fee either didn't include a dollar sign or placed the symbol after the price. Both of these writing characteristics indicated that people outside of the U.S. might be running the scam.
What the Scam Looks Like
What Are Authentic Text Messages from the U.S. Postal Service?
The Postal Service does send legitimate text messages to alert customers of delivery steps, but only if customers request such notifications. There is an official webpage on the matter with the below-transcribed examples of genuine messages. (Note that these four examples of authentic text messages don't include links to websites but simply provide package delivery updates.)
USPS 01123456789123456789, Available for Pickup 4:55am BOWIE MD 20701 Reply STOP to cancel
USPS 01123456789123456789, Expected Delivery by: Monday, September 11, 2017 Reply STOP to cancel
USPS Text Tracking: Alert update has been applied to 01123456789123456789
USPS 01123456789123456789: Request for Delivery Exception Updates confirmed
In sum, we recommend caution when receiving a text message that claims to be from the U.S. Postal Service (or USPS) and ask for payment or personal financial information, as it might be a scam. Keep this in mind especially if you aren't expecting a package and/or you didn't recently ship one.
Additional reporting on the matter can be found on various local news websites, including on WWMT.com, KCRG.com, KFVS12.com, CBS6Albany.com, KLEWTV.com, and WPXI.com. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also published tips on how to avoid falling victim to package delivery scams.
BBB Scam Alert: Don’t Click on That Text! 5 Ways to Avoid Delivery Scams. https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/16460-scam-alert-shipping-trick-fools-holiday-shoppers.
“Definition of SMS.” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/SMS.
“Smishing: Package Tracking Text Scams - USPIS.” United States Postal Inspection Service, https://www.uspis.gov/news/scam-article/smishing-package-tracking-text-scams.
“Text Tracking FAQs | USPS.” USPS.com, https://www.usps.com/text-tracking/welcome.htm.
Various Tweets. Twitter, https://twitter.com/search?src=typed_query&q=usps%20scam%20until%3A2022-05-31%20since%3A2022-05-01.