The other day I ordered something on Etsy and the tracking number provided looked a bit off.
It got me wondering if tracking numbers could be faked or if it was just a mistake.
We looked into it and this is what we found…
Can A USPS Tracking Number Be Fake?
Unfortunately, it is now possible to fake shipping trucking numbers, and this includes tracking numbers for USPS, FedEx, or UPS. To avoid being caught up in a tracking number scam, there are a few precautions you can take.
This article takes a look at USPS tracking numbers: what they are, what they look like, and how to tell if yours if genuine.
What Is A Genuine USPS Tracking Number?
Legitimate tracking numbers are given to packages when they are shipped. They are used to identify the physical locations of packages and to predict delivery. Each number is a unique code printed as a bar code.
The sender (or receiver) of the package can scan or enter this code into the shipping service website to find the delivery status of their package.
How Are USPS Tracking Numbers Used To Scam People?
When a commercial shopping site gives a tracking number at checkout, that tracking number will be associated with a legitimate tracking service, such as FedEx, Amazon, USP or USPS.
If the transaction is a fraud, the tracking number will either be fake, or it will be legitimate, but won’t be allocated to your purchase. Your “item,” which actually doesn’t exist, will be “delivered” elsewhere. Victims have noticed that often, that “item” has been delivered before the victim even made the order.
Either way, the scammers get your money and then blame the shipping service for the missing goods. It’s proving very difficult to challenge this type of fraudulent transaction.
How Do You Tell If A USPS Tracking Number Is Fake?
The only way to find out if the tracking number is fake is to use it for what it is intended. In other words, submit the tracking number into the website for the carrier service you used.
If the number is genuine, information about your package will be displayed. If it is a fake number, there won’t be any information (or the tracking bar just won’t accept the number).
The United States Postal Service has a tracking number information page. On this page you’ll see the tracking number bar first.
You’ll also find a list of different tracking number formats used by USPS. You’ll notice that each service as a different format. On this page, there is also information on where to find your tracking number and how to leave delivery instructions.
USPS now offer free Informed Delivery which tracks incoming packages automatically with email alerts.
What If I Think I’ve Been Given A Fake Tracking Number?
Experiences shoppers advise that shoppers ask for website courier information early in the transaction. If it’s USPS tracking, you can at least check the tracking number format you should receive at checkout.
Then if you enter that tracking number into the USPS website tracking bar and it comes back as invalid, you should call the company to cancel your order.
PayPal users have contributed to forums on this issue, especially users who have been defrauded this way and had their disputes dismissed because their lost packages show up as “delivered.”
One adviser says to check exactly where your tracking numbers ended up by contacting the shipping company for the address that was given for shipment. You may be able to use this information in your appeal for refund via PayPal or your credit card company.
Faking tracking numbers is yet another way scammers can take your money and shift the blame elsewhere.
If it’s happened to you, search for online advice forums because information on this type of scam is increasing.
Also remember to purchase from reputable websites and check that your tracking number is legitimate as soon as possible.