Consumer Alert: How to protect packages from porch pirates

Published: Dec. 6, 2020 at 11:31 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Online holiday shopping is on a record breaking pace, and many people are expecting a lot of packages to arrive at their doorsteps.

Consumer experts are warning to again be wary of porch pirates, and are giving tips on how to protect your packages from being stolen, as well as how to protect yourself from scammers who may try to take advantage of shoppers who missed Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.

If you did miss those deals, experts say you should slow your search and do research before buying popular toys and gifts.

“Whatever the hot toy is, this year it’s the animatronic toys or the new PlayStation 5 gaming console, a fake website or social media post will pop up offering a too good to be true offer on that items. Consumers need to be careful, know up front what you should be paying, what the going price is for that toy and if you see something far below that, look elsewhere because it’s probably one of those scam websites,” said Susan Bach of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.

Bach says the explosion of fake websites started in spring with quarantine, and it hasn’t slowed.

“I think now more than ever, it’s really important that people shop at trustworthy sites. And before they pay for anything, or enter any personal information, they make sure that they’ve done the research on if it’s a good website, if it’s a trusted website, and it has a good reputation,” said Bach.

All this online shopping means more packages delivered to doorsteps, and more opportunities for porch pirates.

“Don’t leave packages unattended. Take advantage of any king of online tracking tool that is offered, whether it’s from the retailer or the postal service, UPS or FedEx, so you can be notified when it’s delivered and you can then grab it right away, or ask your neighbor. If that’s not possible, have it delivered elsewhere, pick it up at the postal facility, or have it delivered to work, or your in-laws. Somewhere you know somebody will be able to grab it right away,” said Bach.

She also touched on doorbell cameras, and if that gives you protection.

“A camera on your porch really is a deterrent for porch pirates, and I’ve seen where there are signs drawing attention to their camera, and those are all good tools as well. If you see something happening, share that video with your postal inspector and local law enforcement because chances are, they’re not just hitting your house. They’re hitting multiple houses in the neighborhood, so sharing video would really help with an investigation,” said Bach.

Experts remind consumers that it’s also best to shop online with a credit card, as it gives you the most protection if something does go wrong.

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