Porch pirates? Aren’t pirates on the high seas? Sadly, pirates have come onshore…to your porch…where they grab those packages that you ordered.
Incidents of Package Theft are Increasing
Almost 24 percent of Americans have fallen victim to porch pirates according to an online survey conducted by Shorr Packaging Corporation.
A C+R Research survey found that 36% of Americans had reported a stolen package at least once during the time period September 2018-September 2019.
The New York Times recently reported that as many as 90,000 packages are stolen or lost every day in the city.
Clearly, package theft is a problem year-round. The increase in online shopping around the holidays means more packages are available for porch pirates. You may be able to recoup your loss, but it will cost you in time and reordering, all of which are going to impact your holiday budget.
What can you do to Protect Yourself from Porch Pirates?
Here are just a few things you can do according to law enforcement officials around the country.
Report the Theft
Report the theft to the police and get in touch with the US Postal Inspection Service. It is their responsibility to investigate mail and package theft (not your post office).
Bring the Package Inside Immediately
In most cases, you can request a certain day and window of time for your packages to be delivered. Take the packages inside right away, the porch pirates will be out of luck. Ask that a signature be required upon delivery.
Use Tracking Numbers or Text Messaging Options
Utilize the tracking notices provided by your shipper. Set up delivery notifications via text or email so you know when the packages will be delivered. If you can’t be home at that time, arrange for family members or neighbors to meet the delivery service and collect the packages for you.
Deliver the Packages to Your Office
If this presents no problems with your employer, make your office or place of work your preferred delivery destination.
Lock Your Packages in a Box
A tech company called BoxLock provides different padlocks that have built-in scanners. These padlocks can be opened by UPS, USPS or FedEx when they scan the package. If you have plugged in the package delivery details into your BoxLock padlock, it will open, and the delivery service can place your packages inside.
If you notice suspicious vehicles in your neighborhood, lurking and circling around report it to your local police. The same goes for seeing nonresidents wandering around the neighborhood or apartment complex. These could be porch pirates scanning the area, looking for weaknesses.
Cyber Thieves are Busy This time of the Year Too
Porch pirates are not the only problem confronting online shoppers. Cyber Monday may be over, but many of you are still shopping. While it’s a busy time for you, it’s a busy time for cyber thieves too. Here is how to stay safe.
Beware of Unknown Websites
Limit your online shopping to those merchants you trust. If you haven’t shopped there before, ask friends and family about their experience or look for online reviews. Search the online retailer with the words, “scam” or “fake.”
Make sure the website has a legitimate URL. Look for the “https://” address. The website should display contact information that includes an email address, phone number, and a physical address.
Social Media Scams
One notorious scam is the offer of free gift cards just for filling out a consumer survey. You might get the gift card, but you won’t be able to buy anything with it. In the meantime, cyber thieves have your credit card information.
Refrain from clicking on social media ads until you have done your homework to know that it is a legitimate retailer.
Be Careful of Links and Attachments
Phishing scams make use of emails and text messages. Don’t recognize the sender? Don’t open the links or attachments.
Use Safe Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are very vulnerable to cyber thieves. They can easily intercept data transmission and collect your personal identification and credit card information. Only sign-on to secured networks or install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your digital device. Use encryption and anti-virus software that will alert you to bogus sites and attempts to steal your data.
When shopping from home, make sure your Wi-Fi is secured with a unique, strong password. Avoid using one password for all your devices and subscription sites.
Pay Only with Credit Cards
Usually, we talk about using cash or debit cards as the best way to protect your budget. But when online shopping, use only your credit cards.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Credit Card and Bank Account
Continuously monitor your bank and credit card accounts. If you see any unauthorized activity, report it immediately.
Enjoy your holiday shopping and steer clear of porch pirates and cyber thieves!