MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly half of all holiday shopping is being done online this year.  But as you wait to receive packages, cyber criminals may be waiting for you with a scam.

They send emails that look like they’re from delivery companies, saying there was a shipping issue with your gifts. But when you click a link to fix that, hackers could steal your personal information.

These days, you barely have to lift a finger to knock out all your Christmas presents.

“I’d say 80 percent were bought online,” Derek Herbert of Eden Prairie said.

WCCO caught up with him and online shopper Tim Reilley outside the Golden Valley Postal Service.

“It’s easy, you get great deals, on cyber Monday, I got this coat on sale – I was happy about that,” Reilley said.

They are just the type of shoppers a group of silent criminals are out to get.

Mark Lanterman is a cyber security specialist. He is the chief technology officer at Minnesota’s Computer Forensic Services.

“This is one attack that seems to work,” Lanterman said.

Lanterman is also an online shopper who was almost a victim.  Early Monday, he got an email similar to the one FedEx is warning its customers about.  It says there’s an issue with your package delivery and asks you to “click here.” If you do, a virus can steal passwords stored on your computer from your bank account  to your Paypal account.

“The hackers have made these emails look very real, very professional and it’s very easy for us to be fooled,” Lanterman said.

He says the hackers are also taking advantage of the holiday hustle.

“We have company coming, we have a lot of packages, a lot of things and we’re not necessarily paying as close attention to these emails as we normally would and accidentally we click on something we normally never would click on,” Lanterman said.

He says it’s easy to fall for, just like a good sale. If you get an email about your package delivery being delayed or about extra delivery charges, do not click on the link. Go directly to the FedEx or Postal Service website yourself and check on the order with your tracking number.

Lanterman says grammatical errors are also a red flag that it’s a scam. It’s easy to breeze through emails this time of year, but falling for this one could cost you.

Dan Hendrickson with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota Minnesota offers these tips:

  1. Don’t rush when going through your emails. Everyone’s in a hurry this time of year, but rushing can cause you to open emails and click on links or attachments you might not otherwise click on.
  2. Be skeptical. Remember, the USPS and major delivery companies leave notices on your door if you’re not there.
  3. If you’re not expecting a package, then you know something is amiss if you receive a delivery notice email. If you are expecting a package, use the tracking information retailers or shippers provide at the point of purchase to track your order.
  4. Trust your instincts. If something about an email seems off to you, pay attention to that feeling.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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