Like a shopping-mall Santa, a familiar scam is making a comeback as the holiday shipping season ramps up.
Watch out for official-looking e-mails that appear to come from package delivery services such as UPS, FedEx or even the U.S. Postal Service, consumer protection advocates warn.
The e-mail says there was a problem delivering a package you either sent or were supposed to receive. It may even include a phony tracking number. The recipient is instructed to open an attachment and fill out an invoice, a claim form or a corrected mailing label.
However, opening the attachment downloads malware or viruses to your computer, the Better Business Bureau warns.
On its website, UPS says it does sometimes send e-mails to customers but rarely do the e-mails include attachments. The company urges customers who doubt the authenticity of a notification to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
FedEx says it never includes attachments with e-mails containing package-tracking information.
On its anti-fraud page, UPS advises consumers to watch for tell-tale signs an e-mail is fake: poor grammar, misspellings, oddly shaped or sized logos, demands to act immediately and lack of other communication options, such as a telephone.
The Postal Service urges consumers to delete suspicious e-mails and not to click on any attachments or links in them.
"The Postal Inspection Service is aware of the problems and [is] working hard to resolve the issues and shut down the malicious programs," it says in a notice on its website.