PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With cyber shopping incentives, free shipping specials, and no crowds, it's tough to ignore the convenience of online shopping.
Shipping companies like UPS, Fedex, as well as the U.S. Postal Service, are gearing up for a surge in deliveries. They're also reminding customers not to let their guard down.
"We are expecting about a 10 percent increase in packages this year, but that doesn't necessarily mean more temptation," said Christine Dugas, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service. "What it means is be diligent about your packages."
Stealing mail is a federal offense, and package thieves can spend up to five years in jail. But that's not enough to stop some people.
Dugas said the best thing you can do is not leave thieves any bait.
"Remove it from the mailbox or from its location as soon as possible," said Dugas. "Some people might go in and forget that it's out there. The longer it's out there, the darker it gets, the more opportunity."
To keep you packages safe:
-Track the package online, and head home when your gift arrives.
- Instruct your mail carrier where to leave your package. Putting it in your backyard can prevent theft, simply because thieves won't notice it.
-Require a signature. If no one is home to accept the package, your mail carrier will take it back to the post office, and you can pick it up there.
"You can have it sent to your work, where you might be during the day," said Dugas. "You can have it sent to a relative or a friend or neighbor, who you trust and it's going to be brought in right away. You can call the post office and have it put on hold and pick it up there at the post office."
The U.S. Postal Service, along with UPS and Fedex, offer comprehensive online and mobile tracking tools to keep tabs on your packages during the holiday season.
Because the U.S. Postal Service is delivering so many packages this year, they will be making Sunday deliveries through the end of December. They normally don't make Sunday deliveries. The Postal Service wants to get the word out because many of these delivery drivers are seasonal employees who don't have complete uniforms.
If you have any concerns, just ask for their badge.
Other consumers have installed home security systems to catch crooks. Learn more here.