School's In for Shipping Scammers

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Release Date:  August 25, 2016

Media Contact:  Jerad Albracht, Senior Communications Specialist, 608-224-5007 or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020

Note:  An example of a recent fake shipping email is included at the bottom of this page.

​MADISON – As students pour into campuses statewide after a summer away, dorm mailrooms are filling with care packages from loved ones and online purchases by students looking to furnish their new spaces.  With all of these packages in transit, scammers may see an opportunity to fill email inboxes with fake, malware-laden shipping emails that claim to come from major shipping companies. 

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reminds parents and college students alike to be cautious of these potentially phony shipping "delay" and "confirmation" emails and to avoid clicking any links in unsolicited emails.

"Fake shipping scams occur year-round, but the new school year gives crooks a unique opportunity to sneak them in around legitimate shipping emails that students and their family members might be receiving," said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection.  "Any link or attachment in a fake shipping email is a ploy to get you to download malware or turn over personal or banking information."

Both senders and package recipients should watch for emails or texts that warn about a problem with a delivery, that ask for account information for security purposes, or that ask you to open an attached or linked "shipment label" in order to claim a package from a local office. Scammers often use the names, logos and color schemes of major shipping companies and retailers to add legitimacy to their messages, and they may also spoof the company's web address (URL) in the sender's email address.

In actuality, there is no package waiting for delivery, and the alarming language in these emails is intended to make recipients act quickly without considering consequences.  If you receive a similar email, delete it and do not click any of the links contained anywhere in the message.

If you are expecting a shipment that may be delayed, contact the shipper directly to inquire.  Some e-commerce companies offer package tracking features right on their websites.  If you made an online purchase, log into your account on the site and see if these options are available.

Here are some common red flags to look for in fake shipping scams:

  • Poor grammar and spelling errors in emails that claim to come from major organizations.  If the message is sloppy, it likely did not come from a legitimate business.

  • Sender addresses that don't match the URL for the company that supposedly sent the email.  For example, the "From:" line in a recent fake FedEx email noted that the email came from "Brenda" and gave an Italian email address, not a address (see example on next page).

  • Shipment emails that lack specifics about the sender or the package's supposed contents.

  • Emails asking you to open an attachment in order to review an order.  Never open an attachment in an unsolicited or questionable email.

  • Emails containing threats that a package will be returned to the sender and you will be charged a fee for not responding to the message.

  • If you question whether an email link is legitimate, hover the mouse over the link (but don't click it!).  At the bottom of your browser window, you can view the URL where the link would actually take you.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to

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