ELKHART — December is the busiest time of the year for mail carriers, with millions of packages shipped from online companies, family and friends throughout the country.
Mary Dando, an Indiana USPS spokeswoman, said this year 545 million pieces of mail will be processed each day during the holiday season nationwide, of which 420 million will be packages. That’s not counting other mail carrier services, such as UPS and FedEx.
With a growing popularity of online shopping and the continued tradition of gift sending during the holidays, consumers are at risk of becoming a victim of anything from online shopping scams or porch pirating.
According to a press release from the Michiana Crime Stoppers, the term “porch pirates” is given to people who steal packages left by carriers on door steps. Sometimes, porch pirates will follow delivery trucks to target their victims.
Michiana Crime Stoppers shared a few tips to help protect property:
Insure valuable packages.
Whenever possible, stipulate delivery upon signature only or schedule delivery for when you’re likely to be home.
Some delivery services will allow you to designate a discreet delivery location on your property.
Utilize delivery text alerts and quickly notify a trusted neighbor to retrieve the package.
Have the package delivered to a friend or neighbor who is more likely to be home, or leave a note on your door requesting delivery to a neighbor.
If your employer allows it, have your package delivered to your workplace.
Pick up your package at the delivery facility.
Install a lock box for parcels.
Michiana Crime Stoppers also has tips for those who have become a victim of theft:
Tell the merchant or your credit card company in case they have a recovery police.
Installing a surveillance video camera may not prevent a theft, but it could help police solve your crime.
Help your neighbors and yourself by being watchful.
Contact police about any suspicious people or behavior.
Capt. Jim Bradberry, public information officer with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, said victims of theft can file a report online or call the sheriff’s department to talk with an officer.
“But I think that’s important,” he said. “If somebody is going around stealing packages, we would like to know about that activity so that we can warn everybody else in the neighborhood.”
Anyone with information about thefts or other crimes in their neighborhoods are encouraged to call their local law enforcement agency or Michiana Crime Stoppers at 800-342-STOP or 574-288-STOP.
HOLIDAY SHOPPING SCAMS
Many online shopping scams are the same as in the past, but the activity increases this time of the year, according to a press release from the FBI. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of “cyber fraud”:
Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.
Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files; the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.
Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.
Always compare the link in the email to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they match and lead you to a legitimate site.
Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the email instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify the email is genuine.
If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency that requires your attention, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.