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Protect yourself from "Porch Pirates"

Package delivery is up this year because of the pandemic - it is also raising concerns about package theft
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Posted at 6:17 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 18:30:20-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — More people home and not traveling this year because of the pandemic is causing a big increase in package delivery for the holidays.

It is also raising concerns about "porch pirates" who steal packages from your doorstep.

"I think it is terrible that people would do that especially now with this coronavirus," said Carol Machlowski from West Seneca.

"When you spend money, and it is hard-earned money that you have to work for, and then someone takes something from you . . . it is devastating," added Wanda Lamar from Buffalo who was the victim of a "porch pirate" at Thanksgiving time 2019.

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A website called bid-on-equipment.com recently analyzed Google reports of package thefts in the United States. It found that Buffalo ranked #6 for searches about "porch pirate" activities between March and November 2020.

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HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM A PORCH PIRATE?

Melanie McGovern with the Better Business Bureau of Upstate NY (BBB) offered the following recommendations:

  • If you are able to go to your office, have the packages shipped there.
  • Send packages directly to the recipient.
  • Ask neighbors to watch for package deliveries when you are not home.
  • Check the address on the package before you open it. It could be your neighbor's. Overworked drivers combined with huge package volume has resulted in the BBB being notified of many wrong deliveries.

McGovern warned there is a scam going around where the scammers send phony text messages, pretending to be a shipper like FedEx or UPS, and asking you to contact them about a package delivery. Don't do it! It could result in your personal information being stolen or malware being put on your cell phone.

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An example of a fake text message from a scammer pretending to be FedEx. Notice the name of the delivery service is wrong; it should be FedEx and not Fedex.

Instead, McGovern said to take the tracking/package number from the suspicious text message and go to the shipper's website yourself. Input the number to see if it is legitimate.

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE (USPS) ADVICE:

  • Don't leave packages unattended for any length of time.
  • Won't be home? Use Hold for Pickup option at usps.com
  • Leaving town? Use the USPS Hold Mail services at usps.com
  • Tell the mail carrier where to place the package by customizing your delivery options on usps.com
  • Use USPS special services like Signature Confirmation or Registered Mail
  • Monitor your front door with a home security system or video doorbell. Save the video and alert Postal Inspectors if you catch a thief in the act.

The post office has an informational video that you can watch by clicking on this link.

More information about post office services and how to report a stolen piece of mail or package can be found by clicking on this link.

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