Battling smishing: USPS warns of deceptive text scams, provides tips for digital defense

Stay informed and secure: The United States Postal Inspection Service offers strategies to thwart smishing attempts and protect your personal information

LA VERGNE, TN - NOVEMBER 04: Detail view of the USPS logo on a piece of priority mail packaging during a media tour of a United States Postal Service package support annex on November 4, 2021 in La Vergne, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) (Brett Carlsen, 2021 Getty Images)

In the midst of the concerns surrounding the substantial mail backlog at the Missouri City processing center, an unsettling trend has emerged among Houstonians and even our very own KPRC 2 employees.

A wave of suspicious text messages, accompanied by peculiar web links, have inundated inboxes, claiming a critical response is needed for a USPS delivery. The common thread in these messages often cites an alleged inability to deliver a package due to an incomplete address.

Recommended Videos

If you never initiated a USPS tracking request for a specific package, heed the warning—do not click that link!

According to the United States Postal Inspection Service, this particular brand of deception has a name: smishing.

Smishing is a crafty variant of phishing that leverages text messages or phone numbers to ensnare unsuspecting individuals. Those targeted typically receive misleading text messages designed to entice them into divulging personal or financial information. The perpetrators behind these scams often masquerade as government agencies, banks, or reputable companies, employing the guise of legitimacy to bolster their claims.

RELATED: Missing mail and package delays continue to cause problems for people in the Houston area

The crux of the matter lies in the perpetrators’ quest for personally identifiable information from their victims—information like account usernames and passwords, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, credit and debit card details, personal identification numbers, and other sensitive data. This treasure trove of information, once in the wrong hands, becomes a potent tool for perpetrating crimes, particularly in the realm of financial fraud.

The United States Postal Inspection Service emphasizes that the USPS provides legitimate tools for tracking specific packages, and the best part—they are entirely free of charge. However, there’s a crucial caveat: customers must either register online or initiate a text message, providing a tracking number in the process.

RELATED: Woman says her dad hasn’t received his heart medication as USPS mail issues at Missouri City processing center continue

KPRC 2 employees share screenshots of three suspicious text messages, each claiming to be from USPS. (KPRC 2)

Importantly, USPS will not initiate contact with customers via text messages or emails unless the customer has explicitly requested such services with a valid tracking number—and such communication will never contain a clickable link. Therefore, if you find yourself facing an unsolicited link purportedly from USPS, and you did not initiate a tracking request, the golden rule prevails: do not click that link!

If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of a suspicious text message purporting to be from USPS, it’s crucial to take swift action to protect yourself and others. The United States Postal Inspection Service offers a straightforward method for reporting USPS-related smishing attempts. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to report such incidents:


  • Compose an email to Without clicking on the potentially harmful web link, draft an email to
  • Copy and paste the text message: In the body of the email, copy the contents of the suspicious text message. Refrain from clicking the link to avoid potential risks associated with malicious content.
  • Provide your information: Include your name in the email, and don’t forget to attach a screenshot of the text message. Ensure that the screenshot displays the sender’s phone number and the date the message was sent.
  • Include relevant details: Furnish any additional relevant information in your email. If, unfortunately, you clicked the link, lost money, provided personal information, or experienced any impacts on your credit or personal well-being, make sure to detail these aspects in your report.
  • Wait for postal inspection service communication: The Postal Inspection Service will review your report and may contact you for additional information if necessary. Your cooperation is instrumental in their efforts to combat smishing scams.
  • Forward the text message to 7726: As an extra precaution, forward the suspicious text message to 7726. This step aids in reporting the scam phone number, contributing to a collective effort to thwart these fraudulent activities.

RELATED: Sources say package delays affecting Missouri City sorting facility now affecting North Houston Distribution Center

The United States Postal Inspection Service provides valuable guidance on fortifying your defenses against smishing.


  • Think before you act: Take a moment to think critically about the sender’s identity. Ask yourself why they might be requesting your information. Genuine entities usually have established channels for communication and seldom request sensitive data via text messages.
  • Avoid replying and clicking: Resist the temptation to reply to suspicious messages, and under no circumstances, click on any links provided. Clicking on these links can lead to malware installation, redirect you to fake websites that appear authentic, and compromise your personal information.
  • Report suspicious activity: If you encounter a smishing attempt, report it promptly. Reach out to the bank, government agency, or company that the scam artist is attempting to impersonate. This not only helps protect yourself but also enables these entities to alert others and collaborate with law enforcement in investigating such activities.
  • Delete unwanted texts: Legitimate companies won’t request personal information via text messages. If you receive such messages, delete them immediately. Err on the side of caution, and don’t engage with unsolicited requests for personal data.
  • Block spam messages: Take proactive steps to block spam messages. Call your carrier’s customer service number (usually 611) and instruct them to block all text messages sent as email, as well as multimedia messages sent as email. Alternatively, explore options to activate these blocks through your online account.
  • Guard your personal information: Treat your personal information like cash. Your Social Security number, credit card details, and other personally identifiable information are highly valuable and should be shared only with trusted entities through secure channels.
  • Monitor your cell phone bill: Regularly review your cell phone bill for any unauthorized charges. If you detect suspicious activities, report them promptly to your carrier. Timely intervention can help mitigate potential financial losses.
  • Prioritize security updates: Apply the same safety practices to your cell phone as you do to your computer. Keep your security software and applications up to date. Exercise caution with text messages from unknown senders, and scrutinize even seemingly unusual messages from known contacts.

RELATED: USPS bringing in 30 employees to help fix mail delivery backlog by this week

About the Author

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.

Recommended Videos