Watch Out For The Cell Phone Delivery Scam

Watch Out For The Cell Phone Delivery Scam

Written by Bryan Daly
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 16, 2021

Like many parts of the world, Canada has recently experienced a significant boom in technology and communication, particularly when it comes to the cell phone industry. Unfortunately, this progress, coupled with the accessibility of online shopping and delivery services has also led to an alarming rise in scams and identity theft. 

For instance, a common scam that’s now popping up all over the country is the “cell phone delivery scam”. 

What Is The Cell Phone Delivery Scam?

These days, it’s important to think about your transactions before you make them. If a product or purchase seems like it’s not 100% legitimate, it’s usually safer to go with your gut and stay away from it altogether.

The cell phone scam involves one of those questionable situations, which can make it easy, yet difficult to spot at the same time. This is how the scam typically starts:

You Get A “Delivery” 

A delivery person appears at your door with a package containing a new cell phone. The person delivering the cell phone will be a legitimate delivery man. Problem is, you never bought a phone but you sign for it anyway, in case you made an order you forgot about or because it may belong to your spouse or family member.

They Return To Collect The Package

After some time, the scammer will come to your door posing as the delivery service. They’ll explain that they’ve been sent to take the cell phone back, stating that there was an error at the packaging depot. Since no one at your household actually ordered the phone, you sign another information sheet and return it. No harm, no foul.

In some cases, the scammer will stalk your home until the delivery man tries to make the delivery. These scammers will try to intercept the delivery before it comes to your door. They’ll often have a fake ID with your information and will try to take the package straight from the delivery man. 

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How The Cell Phone Delivery Scam Works 

The reason the cell phone scam is so devious is because it uses the reputation and authority of the postal service. If a man in uniform comes by your door stating the package you just received was an error, most people believe it. But when you return the package, you’ve just unknowingly given away a high-value phone or multiple phones (often the package will have multiple phones), which can cost thousands of dollars.  

How Do The Scammers Order Phones Under Your Name? 

Most scammers get ahold of your personal and financial details, like your bank account and credit card numbers through fraudulent means. They then use those details to buy a cell phone using your identity. They may even create a new bank or credit card account in your name to do so. Then, they simply need to collect the package from you and stick you with the bill. 

What Should You Do If You Get A Package You Did Not Order?

Falling victim to a scam could result in a major financial loss, as well as severe damage to your credit report. So, if you receive a cell phone or other expensive item that you don’t recall ordering, there are a few safety measures you should take, including:

  • Do Not Give The Package Back – When the supposed delivery person returns to collect the cell phone, you have the right to refuse their request. If they threaten to contact the authorities, let them. While they may simply be an employee doing their job without knowing your identity was stolen, there’s no harm in confirming.
  • Call The Supplier And Return The Package – Rather than handing over the package to the delivery person, call the carrier and set up a return through them. That way you can tell them it wasn’t you who made the order and they can issue a fraud alert. Then, you just have to mail the phone back to them or bring it to one of their store locations.
  • Contact The Authorities – In most parts of Canada, there should be a branch of the local police department that’s dedicated to preventing fraud and cybercrimes. Give them a call and explain the situation. If you have enough information about the false package or courrier, they may be able to launch a proper investigation.
  • Modify Your Financial Accounts – If you already signed for the package or you think your identity has been stolen, contact your bank and credit card company to cancel or have fraud alerts placed on your accounts. This includes any online subscriptions, since the scammer may have gotten your information elsewhere.

How To Protect Yourself Against The Cell Phone Delivery Scam 

Remember, cell phones and other delivery-based scams are done by stealing your information and using it to purchase things in your name. So, the best way to bypass this kind of risk is to protect your personal and financial information using these tactics:

  • Shred Your Documents – Prior to throwing away any documents that include your sensitive information, make sure to shred them by any means necessary. This is especially true for bank statements, credit card bills, subscriptions and receipts.
  • Create Strong And Unique Passwords For Each Account – When creating an online account, don’t use a password that scammers could easily figure out (street, spouse’s name, etc.). This includes accounts like Netflix and Amazon.  
  • Never Give Out Your Information – Whether it’s online, over the phone or right outside your front door, it’s generally safer to avoid giving out your information if you’re not totally certain that a website, business or delivery service is legitimate. 
  • Check Your Credit Report Frequently – Don’t forget to inspect your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports at least once a year. You can then dispute any errors or signs of fraud that you find. You can also ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your file.
  • Protect Your Computer and Mobile Devices – Spyware, ransomware and malware are easy ways to infect your device and steal your info. Don’t open any fishy emails, links or texts and always update your security systems.
  • Stay On the Lookout – Never leave your documents or wallet unattended, even inside your home or car. A good scammer could look in your window, intercept your mail, search your recycling and manipulate you over the phone or in person.
  • Question Everything – A common scammer trick is to prey on people who’ve just moved to a new rental or home. They’ll send you a cell phone or other high-value item addressed to the former owner/renter in hopes that you’ll sign for it.   

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard By the Cell Phone Delivery Scam! 

Being scammed in any way can ruin your credit, drain your bank account and lead to unending stress, so it’s always essential to look before you leap. For example, if a cell phone or other suspicious package suddenly gets delivered to your home, it’s probably better to turn it down. If you’ve already been scammed victim, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center to file a report. 

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and traveling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer. Bryan uses the BMO Cash Back Mastercard to earn cash back on everything from boring bill payments to exciting excursions. He is also a strong saver, holding both a TFSA and an RRSP account in order to prepare for his future while taking full advantage of tax benefits.

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