Parcel on hold, beware of the new SMS scam: how to defend yourself

Postal Police raise the alarm: beware of the message asking you for money to unlock a parcel. Here's what's happening

If these days you have received an SMS on your smartphone asking you to pay two euros to unblock the shipment of a package, you are not the only ones. It is a scam concocted ad hoc by the usual criminals who hope to steal money from people cheating them. Launching the alarm is the State Police through its account on Facebook, which warns users of the new scam that, unfortunately, is affecting dozens of users throughout Italy.

As usual, the scammers use current affairs to make people fall into their traps. In a historical period when movements are limited to the minimum in order not to spread the pandemic, many people are ordering on e-commerce sites. Shipments in many cases take longer to comply with all the security regulations and it can happen that a package takes more than a week to reach its destination. Scammers are taking advantage of this particular phase to make people believe that their package is blocked and that they have to pay 2 euros to unblock the situation.

This type of scam has a very specific name: smishing. And in the last years it's growing more and more, especially because of the increased use of online services, such as shopping on e-commerce sites.

What is smishing

The word smishing has a vague assonance with phishing, and it's not a coincidence. In both cases we are dealing with a scam and in both cases through a message. In phishing the message is sent to the e-mail address, while in smishing the medium used is SMS.

How does smishing work? Very simple. Scammers send SMS to a large number of users, warning them about a problem. It can be a blocked package, as in this case, or a message from the Post Office or your bank warning of an attempt to steal your credentials, with the need to replace them immediately. In reality, behind the number that apparently seems to be "real", hides a fraudster. In the message, in fact, there is also a link to open and you are directed to a web page that seems to be the official one, but in reality has been cloned. If you fall for the scam you will lose money and access to your bank account

SMS scam: the text of the message

"You are asked to pay 2 euros to unlock a parcel being shipped by entering all your credit card details". This is the incipit of the SMS that in these days is arriving on the smartphones of dozens of Italians. At the end of the message there is a link that directs to a web page where you can enter your credit card details to pay the 2 euros. In this way, the scammers, in addition to stealing the 2 euros, also get the data of the credit card that they can sell on the dark web or use for online purchases

How to defend yourself from smishing

Recognizing an attempt to smishing and defending yourself from this type of scam is quite simple. First of all, always be wary of text messages where you do not know the sender. Moreover, no courier requires money to unlock the shipment of a parcel. The same goes for messages sent by banks: other channels are used for communications about attempts to steal credentials. Finally, never click on the links in the messages, in most cases they direct you to fake pages.