Package Redirection ScamAre Unexpected Changes to Tracking Information a “Red Flag” for Fraud?

November 29, 2023 | 15 min read

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Package Redirection Scam

In a Nutshell

Did you know that crafty scammers can order items and then change shipping addresses to obtain those goods free of charge? It’s called a package redirection scam, and unfortunately, it happens all the time. Let’s explore what you need to watch out for and what you can do about it.

20 Tips to Spot Package Redirection Scams & How to Prevent Them From Happening

Package redirection scams are an all-too-familiar headache in the world of online retail.

They often start with stolen credit card details. This leads to — what looks like — a normal online order. The card's billing details are correct, and the shipping address matches up with those provided by the cardholder. But, here's where things take a frustrating turn for many merchants.

The scammer reroutes the package to a location of their choice. As the merchant, this means you’re losing merchandise to the scammer. On top of that, there’s the headache of dealing with a chargeback once the cardholder discovers the scheme.

So, what's the best way to guard against these crafty scams without accidentally turning away good customers or making the shopping experience a hassle? Let’s dive into some smart strategies you can deploy and find out.

What is a Package Redirection Scam?

Package Redirection Scam

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A package redirection scam is a form of eCommerce fraud involving a scammer who alters or manipulates shipping information to trick a cardholder, merchant, or mail carrier into delivering goods to the scammer.

Package redirection scams encompass a range of deceptive practices aimed at intercepting and misdirecting shipments. These scams exploit the intricacies of shipping processes and consumer trust, leading to significant losses for both individuals and businesses.

In a classic package redirection scam, a bad actor cunningly alters the shipping label, leading the mail carrier to mistakenly deliver the package to an incorrect address. At this new address, an accomplice is waiting to receive the goods from the carrier. This is just one of several examples, though.

Redirection tactics are also frequently employed to facilitate refund fraud attacks. The scammer requests a return, then conducts a package redirection scam to fool you into thinking you mishandled the returned package. This can sometimes be called “fake tracking ID fraud” or an “FTID scam.” You issue a refund, even though the item never actually comes back to you.

Other Package Redirection Scam Methods

As we alluded to above, package scams are highly variable. It’s not one attack method; rather, a package redirection scam could be any form of fraud by which a scammer tricks another party using false address information.

Here are some of the most common tactics to watch for:

Label Editing Scams

The point here is to intercept a package and modify its shipping label. The attacker either changes the address, or uses a fake label to redirect the package to a different location. This can happen during transit or by stealing the package soon after delivery. The original recipient is left without their package, and tracking information often shows it as delivered, making it difficult to claim a loss.

Swapping Goods for Junk

This happens when a fraudster intercepts a package and replaces its contents with worthless items, like junk mail or trash. They then reseal and send the package to the intended recipient, who unknowingly receives a box of valueless items. The scammer keeps the original, valuable contents.

ZIP Code Scam

The scammer places an order using stolen credit card information, providing a ZIP code close to the delivery address. Because ZIP codes can cover large areas, the fraudster can specify a delivery location within that ZIP code that's accessible to them, like a vacant house or a PO Box. This makes it harder to track the fraudulent transaction based on address alone.

Fake “Missed Delivery” Notices

This happens when a fraudster leaves a fake “missed delivery” notice at a person's home, asking them to call a number to reschedule the delivery. When the victim calls, they are asked for personal information or payment to “confirm” the rescheduled delivery. They don’t realize they’re talking to a scammer, who will use that information to either steal goods from them, or use their information to facilitate other attacks.

Account Address Switching

Scammers can hack a user’s online shopping account and change the delivery address for pending or future orders. The victim completes a purchase, unaware that the address on file with their account has been changed. The victim only realizes what has happened after the package they ordered doesn't arrive.

Courier Impersonation

A fraudster might contact the recipient of a package, posing as a representative of USPS, FedEx, or another delivery service. The scammer claims there’s an issue with the delivery (like unpaid customs fees or wrong delivery address). They ask for personal information or additional payment to resolve the issue. These details are then used for future fraud attacks.

Package Redirection Scams: Real-World Examples

So, how will you know a package redirection scam when you see it? Well, as we’ll explain a little further down, this type of scam isn’t so easy to spot in advance. That said, once you understand how these scams play out, a definite pattern emerges. 

For instance, here are a few examples of package redirection scenarios you might encounter:

The High-Value Heist

In a well-coordinated label editing scam, a group of fraudsters targets a shipment of high-value electronics. The scam begins with the theft of shipment details, allowing the perpetrators to create a counterfeit shipping label that mirrors the original, but with a different delivery address. The fraudsters intercept the shipment using the fake label as the shipment is in transit. This could be done by planting an accomplice within the fulfillment company or package carrier. The goods are originally destined for a retail store, but are rerouted to an abandoned warehouse. By the time the discrepancy in the delivery address is discovered, the electronics are long gone, resulting in substantial financial losses for the retailer.

Home Renovation Nightmare

A homeowner orders several expensive fixtures and fittings online for a major renovation project. A scammer then gains access to their account and changes the delivery address to a vacant property. Each order confirmation shows the correct address, but the scammer cleverly manipulates the shipping details post-purchase. The homeowner realizes something is wrong when the items fail to arrive on the scheduled date. An investigation reveals that the packages have been signed for at a different location, and the valuable goods are never recovered.

Phantom Gift Delivery

Imagine you're expecting a valuable gift from a friend or family member. One day, you find a notice on your door, claiming you've missed a package delivery and instructing you to call a number to reschedule. You call the number, and the person on the other end seems legitimate. They confirm your address and personal details, and you're relieved that your package will soon be on its way. However, in reality, there was no missed package. The person you called was a scammer, who now has your personal information, which can be used for identity theft or other fraudulent purposes.
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Ripped from the Headlines

In a recent, real-world example, a young college student from Florida has been indicted in a major package delivery scheme involving some seriously high-ticket items. As reported by The Miami Herald, 21-year-old Matthew Bergwall illegally rerouted the shipments of an electric skateboard, a 43-inch Samsung TV, and an eye-wateringly expensive Rolex watch, among other items.

The indictment alleges that Bergwall, along with accomplices in other parts of Florida, would order products online, happily receive them. They would then hack into the employee accounts of the carrier that delivered the goods to enter phony tracking information that made it seem like they'd returned the items. Bergwall now faces charges including mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit computer fraud, to the tune of $3.5 million in liabilities.

20 Package Redirection Scam Red Flags

Everyone is probably aware of crude mail delivery scams like porch piracy. However, package redirection scams are just as prevalent and concerning.

These scams happen in the background. Thus, they’re just not as easy to spot. Once you know what to be on the lookout for, though, you have a better shot of keeping it from happening.

With that in mind, here are some “red flags” for FTID scams and other package redirection attacks. Some of these will apply to merchants, while others are aimed more at helping consumers avoid being targeted:

#1 Unexpected Changes in Tracking Information

If your package’s tracking information suddenly shows an unexpected change in the delivery route or location, it's a potential sign of tampering.

#2 Mismatched Addresses

Be wary if the delivery address listed in your shipping confirmation emails or online account differs from your actual address.

#3 Unusual Delivery Status Updates

If the status of your package inexplicably changes to “delivered” when you haven't received it, it could indicate a scam.

#4 Unsolicited Delivery Reschedule Notices

Be cautious of unexpected “missed delivery” notices, especially if they ask you to provide personal information or make a payment to reschedule the delivery.

#5 Requests for Personal Information Over Phone

Legitimate courier services rarely, if ever, ask for personal details or payments over the phone to resolve delivery issues.

#6 Suspicious Emails or Texts About Deliveries

Phishing emails or texts posing as courier services, asking you to click on links or provide personal information, are common red flags.

#7 Unusual Activity on Online Shopping Accounts

Regularly check your online shopping accounts for any unauthorized changes to your saved addresses or unusual order activity.

#8 Pressure to Act Quickly

Scammers often aim to create a sense of urgency, like claiming a package will be returned to the sender if you don’t act swiftly.

#9 Inconsistent Packaging

If the package you receive looks tampered with, or if the packaging doesn’t match the sender’s usual standards, it could be a sign of a swap scam.

#10 Inconsistent Contents

Receiving items you did not order, especially low-value items in place of what you were expecting, is a major red flag.

#11 Strange Requests

Be wary if a sender asks you to confirm receipt of a package before it arrives, or provides vague, evasive answers about shipping details. This applies to refund shipments as well.

#12 Poorly Designed or Unofficial Courier Websites

If you're redirected to a courier service website that looks poorly designed or unofficial, it could be part of a scam.

#13 Frequent Updates to Delivery Times

While it's normal for delivery times to change occasionally, frequent and erratic updates could indicate that someone is tampering with the delivery process.

#14 Unexpected Courier Service Fees

You receive a request for unexpected fees or charges for delivery, especially if they're requested via cash, wire transfer, or gift cards. Legitimate couriers usually won't ask for additional fees after shipping is paid.

#15 Suspicious Contact Information

Be alert to carrier contact information that doesn't match the official channels. For example, if an email from a supposed courier is a personal email address, or a phone number doesn't match official contact details.

#16 Requests for Advanced Payment for Redelivery

You're asked to make an advanced payment for the redelivery of a package that you supposedly missed. Genuine courier services typically don’t require advance payment for redelivery.

#17 Inconsistent Communication Channels

Be wary if the carrier is contacting you through a different channel than usual. For instance, if you typically receive updates via email, but suddenly start receiving text messages or phone calls.

#18 Generic or No Caller ID on Phone Calls

You receive a call from a carrier, but the caller ID is either generic or unavailable. Legitimate carriers and courier services usually have a recognizable caller ID.

#19 Pressure to Provide Feedback or Confirm Receipt

Scammers might pressure you to confirm the receipt of a package or provide feedback before you have actually received the item as a way to legitimize their scam.

#20 Lack of Official Documentation or Receipts

A courier fails to provide official documentation, like a delivery receipt or a tracking number, or if the documents provided appear unprofessional or do not contain standard information.

You should have a better understanding of how package redirection scams work and what you should be on the lookout for. So, is there any way that you can act to stop them from happening in the first place? Actually, yes, there are.

Preventing Package Redirection Scams

Merchants play a crucial role in safeguarding the delivery process. After all, it’s your products that are being redirected by package delivery scams. It’s extremely important to do everything you can to prevent that from happening and protect your customers in the process. 

With that in mind, here are 10 best practices you can implement to help insulate your business from these scams:

Enhanced Verification Processes

Implement stringent verification processes for any address changes, especially those made after an order is placed. Send confirmation emails to the original email address, and require additional authentication steps before accepting changes.

Secure Customer Accounts

Encourage customers to use strong, unique passwords for their accounts. Consider adding two-factor authentication for added security. Regularly remind customers to update their passwords and to monitor their accounts for unauthorized activity.

Educate Customers

Proactively educate your customers about the risks of package redirection scams. This can be done through newsletters, your website, and during the purchase process. Inform them about the red flags of these scams.

Clear Communication Channels

Establish clear, secure, and consistent communication channels with your customers. Make sure they know how you will contact them and what kind of information you will — and will not — ask for in communications.

Track & Monitor Shipments

Use advanced tracking and monitoring systems for shipments. Provide customers with real-time tracking information and alerts at each stage of fulfillment, so that they can remain in the loop throughout the delivery process.

Partner with Reputable Carriers

Work with well-established and reputable carriers or courier services known for their secure handling and delivery of packages. Keep an open dialog about the measures they have in place to prevent package redirection and fraud.

Clarify Insurance & Liability Policies

Have clear, easy-to-interpret policies regarding shipping insurance and liability. Consider providing customers with the option to purchase shipping insurance to cover the cost of lost or stolen items, especially for high-ticket items.

Conduct Regular Audits & Reviews

Conduct regular audits of your shipping and handling processes to identify potential vulnerabilities. Review and update your security protocols as needed to address scam tactics and other threats as they arise.

Responsive Customer Service

Make sure your customer service team is well trained and responsive. They should be able to quickly address customer concerns about potential fraud and provide clear instructions on how to proceed.

Allow Feedback for Delivery Issues

Create a straightforward and accessible process for customers to report delivery issues or suspicious activity. Quick feedback mechanisms can help by allowing you to take immediate action and prevent further scams.

To wrap this up, remember to also engage in fraud prevention best practices. Remember to deploy fraud-fighting tools like address verification and CVV checks, as well as 3-D Secure. Combining these with dynamic fraud scoring can be an incredibly effective approach to stopping third-party fraud.

None of these solutions are the magic bullet against fraud on their own. But, they pack a powerful punch when used together, significantly reducing overall risk. Regardless, if you’re still feeling a bit uneasy about catching and preventing package redirection scams, It might be time to seek some expert help.

Here at Chargebacks911®, we specialize in crafting customized chargeback management strategies specifically designed for your business's unique needs. Reach out to us and discover how we can assist you in combating return fraud, friendly fraud, and a host of other threats. Let's team up and fight back!


What is a redirect scam?

A package redirection scam occurs when a fraudster manipulates shipping information to divert a delivery to a different address than intended, often intercepting or stealing the package for their gain. This scam can involve altering shipping labels, hacking online accounts, or using deceptive tactics to reroute shipments.

How do you know if you're getting scammed with a package?

You might suspect a package scam if there are unexpected changes in the tracking information, discrepancies between the delivery address on your order confirmation and the actual shipping details, or if you receive unsolicited requests for personal information or payments related to the delivery. Additionally, if you receive a package that appears tampered with or contains items you didn't order, it could be a sign of a scam. Always verify any suspicious activity directly with the courier or retailer.

How can a scammer redirect mail?

A scammer redirects mail by manipulating the shipping label or delivery details, often either by physically altering the label on a package or by hacking into a victim's online account to change the delivery address. They may also deceive postal services with counterfeit labels or false delivery instructions.

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