How to Avoid Falling Victim to a Cash on Delivery Scam

Updated March 23, 2017

Whether you're a buyer or seller, you like to receive a fair deal. Nobody wants to end up as the victim of a scam. However, if you use cash on delivery as a payment option, you may be leaving yourself vulnerable to mail fraud. When you think about it, C.O.D. inherently presumes that a suspicious transaction will take place--either by the buyer at the expense of the seller, or by the seller at the expense of the buyer. Rather than to lose your money in the postal service, apply the fraud prevention tips listed below.

Inspect the Package. If you choose to have a package sent via cash on delivery you can easily fall victim to a scam since you must make a payment for delivery costs before you are even allowed to open the package. Imagine you have ordered a cell phone. The only thing you will be sure of when you pay for the cost of postal service is whether or not the package is the average weight of cell phone. For this reason, be sure you do not notice any telltale signs of mail fraud. For example, does the package bear sufficient postage? Has it been processed & stamped? Is the packaged wrapped in too much packing tape for it to be easily opened? Does the delivery driver appear to be in a great hurry? Take your time, and don't be pressured to pay for something that you are uncertain about.

Verify the Delivery Company and the Deliverer's Authority to Act as an Agent of this Company. This simple fraud prevention step is worth repeating: identify the person who is completing your cash on delivery transaction. A reputable postal service employee will understand your concerns and will not only provide you with the information you need but will also permit you to verify this information. On the other hand, when someone is trying to scam you, they will try to control the transaction and they will not stick around if you try to investigate their authority to perform the C.O.D. However, you have a right not to be pressured into being a victim of mail fraud.

Notify Postal Service Authorities if You are Suspicious or Even Uncertain. Mail fraud will continue to be a problem if no one reports their concerns or takes time to provide essential information to proper authorities. When prosecuting a scam, useful information will be number plate number the deliverer has used, the packaging of the item you were sent and even the shoddy item itself. If you go the extra mile to apply this fraud prevention step, you may protect someone else from being targeted for cash on delivery scam.

Do Not Accept Checks as a Payment Option. You can control payment options for cash on delivery purchases by using U.P.S.'s postal service. This is a good fraud prevention measure, since buyers commonly attempt to scam the C.O.D. system by using checks that will bounce. However, while the sums of the transactions may not be large, this still constitutes mail fraud. You should contact postal authorities, and prosecute the perpetrators of this fraud if possible.

Choose a Reputable Delivery Service. The most attractive feature about cash on delivery to a seller is that it is a guaranteed way to receive cash payment for your product. However, things do not always work out this way. If you chose to employ a low-grade delivery service, they may not be as accountable in the service they provide. The buyer will more easily be able to scam the delivery driver.

Unless You Are Desperate for Business, Use PayPal Instead. Cash on delivery may seem like an attractive payment option for sellers. After all, in theory, a seller is guaranteed payment in cash. Unfortunately, too many people try to scam the system, and even if they aren't trying to commit mail fraud, sometimes these customers decide not to pay for the package on the receiving end. Thus, it ends up being sent back through the postal service a second time, and the person who ends up paying twice for the delivery charges is you. Save yourself the worry, and use PayPal instead. It is secure, online and has fraud prevention measures in place.


Always be polite with an unfamiliar deliverer. If you remain calm and polite, this deliverer will not easily be able to distract you, pressure you or intimidate you.


Unless the package is from someone you know, never accept a C.O.D. delivery that you were not already aware was going to be sent to you.

Things You'll Need

  • A Telephone
  • A Telephone Book or Internet Access
  • To Exercise Caution
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About the Author

James Withers has authored in excess of 200 articles on eHow, expanding on journalistic experience acquired as a commentator for the newspaper of the University of Texas at Arlington. Withers began publishing professionally in 2007. Withers holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Arlington.