Why Does UPS Need An In-Person Signature For All Of My Packages All Of A Sudden?

Have you noticed lately that UPS refuses to leave your packages on your doorstep, even when delivering only that tube of toothpaste you ordered using Amazon Prime at 3 A.M.? Cheryl noticed this happening recently. Signing the InfoNotice and slapping it on the door before work didn’t help: they had to sign for the packages in person. Why? She was an unwitting victim of fraud.

Cheryl reports that she dutifully signed the notices and stuck them to her door, but instead of getting a box in return, she only got more InfoNotices. Her household belongs to Amazon Prime, and get lots of low-value packages that normally wouldn’t even require a signature. What was going on here?

She started check with the different levels of customer service. A chat representative told her that whether to leave the box was down to “driver discretion.” Okay. Maybe the driver’s discretion told him or her that there was a crime problem in the neighborhood. Cheryl has neighbors: did any of them have problems receiving their UPS packages? Nope. If one else on her block was having similar issues, how could it be “driver discretion”?

Here’s an excerpt from Cheryl’s e-mail to us:

Finally, after 3 notes I was able to break the wall of UPS “driver discretion, we won’t take a complaint” customer service on the phone. The agent looked up my tracking numbers and confirmed that they should have been porch dropped once I signed the notes.

A case was opened with the local office.

The local office actually called me back within 15 minutes.

The local asked me if I had filed missing box claims. I said no.

They said they would find the paperwork and call me back.

Shocking event #2: They called me back.

Someone, whose name I had never heard of, had a box delivered to my house. UPS’s GPS showed it delivered.

I never saw it.

Said person then filed a “not delivered” claim and got a refund from their seller.

This put me on a do not deliver list with the local UPS office where they would only release our packages in person.

I was able to get off “hold” and 6 boxes were waiting for me today.

So, if you are having problems with UPS refusing to deliver, and you work, and you live in a semi-secluded quiet neighborhood, call UPS and see if the local office has any claims filed from your address. Basically, we got the backsplash from someone else (allegedly) committing fraud.

Yes, allegedly. That’s a scary thought, that someone you don’t even know could be using your house to commit fraud without your knowledge. Another scary thought: is UPS putting customers on a secret “do not deliver” list and then stonewalling them when they try to find out what’s going on? Or was this just incompetence in action?

We contacted UPS to find out what the situation was. A spokesperson sent us this explanation back:

Circumstances that make an address not suitable for releasing a package without a signature relate to repeated claims or fraud activity at a location. It is for limited areas and is periodically reviewed.

Sadly, new technologies have created new forms of fraud, and we continually collaborate with local, state and national consumer protection offices and law enforcement to recognize and avert fraud. Check our Protect Again Fraud link at the bottom of the UPS.com home page or this direct link.

Our UPS My Choice service provides advance alerts to consumers the day before packages are to be delivered. The authentication system that is part of registration is one form of mitigation so we know you are who you say you are at the designated address. The convenience and advance visibility to expect packages helps give consumers more control to be aware of expected deliveries, re-schedule or re-direct to alternate locations or for pickup.

The readers who have compared MyChoice to a “protection racket” will probably not like that answer, but it might explain why UPS performs a mini-background check on prospective myChoice members.

How can you prevent this issue? Well, Cheryl’s example shows us that you should ask to open a case with your local UPS office right away, instead of futzing around with their global customer service reps. Your local office are the ones who know what’s going on.

If you live in a relatively isolated area, you can protect yourself. It’s getting cheaper and easier to have a small wireless home security camera pointed at your porch: they’re not just for catching UPS and FedEx drivers mishandling your packages, after all. You can catch people using your home as a drop site, then report it to the authorities and freak out accordingly.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.