Protection from stolen Amazon packages


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    You have 3 layers of protection from porch pirates nabbing boxes

    Fred O. Williams

    Senior Reporter
    Expert on consumer credit laws and regulations.

    The Fine Print with Fred Williams

    Fred O. Williams is senior reporter for A business journalist since 1987, his work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, the Buffalo News and USA Today.

    After Amazon Prime Day comes Christmas in July for package

    Shoppers who take advantage of the online retailer’s discount
    holiday July 16 and 17
    should brush up on the coverage available for
    package theft, unless you already have robust theft prevention in place, such
    as a locker, smart doorbell, porch-cam – or you direct shipments to your office
    instead of your home.

    “There’s a lot of (prevention) things that can be done, but they take a little more time and effort on the part of the consumer,”
    said Brian C. Gibbs, CEO of Refund Retriever, a shipping analytics company in

    Thirty-one percent of consumers said they had experienced
    theft of a package in a 2017
    survey of 1,000 consumers by Shorr Packaging Corp
    . But when asked what
    companies should do about it, less than 1 percent of respondents said signature delivery should be required.

    “They want to just order it and have it arrive at the door,”
    Gibbs said.

    Merchants will ship most items without a signature
    requirement for delivery, shipping experts said. Signature verification costs the
    merchant extra and risks alienating customers who miss the delivery. 

    “If you’re not home when Amazon stops by, you might be out
    of luck,” said Michael Grabham, founder of Package Guard, which makes a
    delivery protection device.

    When a package is dropped off at your address, theft protections
    fall into three general layers of coverage: from the seller and shipper, from your
    credit card, and lastly from home or renter insurance.

    Some credit cards have rolled
    back their protections against theft of merchandise
    . But before making a
    claim to the card’s theft protection benefit or launching a chargeback, buyers missing a package should first seek help from the shipper and the seller.
    Credit card protections should be a fallback if other steps fail, shipping
    experts say.

    3 ways to protect
    yourself from package theft

    1. Keep tabs on deliveries

    Sign up for “Shipment Updates via Text” under your Amazon account settings.
    That should alert you when the package is shipped, out for delivery and
    delivered. However, these updates don’t apply to shipments from sellers other
    than Amazon, the company says.

    2. Document the

    In case you need to file a claim later, document the
    transaction and the shipment. You may need copies of the order, the receipt and delivery confirmation. The carrier’s completion of delivery may be required
    to show that the item wasn’t lost in transit. Print or take screen shots, or
    make sure you receive an email copy.

    3. Use a credit card
    with “purchase protection” or “purchase security” benefits

    Check card
    benefits or call customer service to see if the card you use for Amazon or other online purchases comes with this coverage.

    The Chase
    Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card
     provides purchase protection up to $500
    per claim (and $50,000 per credit card account). Items lost in
    shipment before delivery are not
    eligible for coverage, a Chase representative said, so be ready to document the shipment was completed to your address. The Amazon Store Card, issued by
    Synchrony Bank, lacks purchase protection.

    Your coverage when packages go missing

    Here’s an overview of
    the coverage available for stolen packages.

    Layer 1: Amazon
    A-to-Z Guarantee

    What it is: Purchases
    through Amazon’s website are covered to $2,500
    if not delivered to the buyer
    (or are damaged or defective). Unless there is signature confirmation,
    “undelivered” items include those recorded as delivered by the carrier but not
    received by you – that is, dropped off. The guarantee is void if you start a chargeback
    with your credit card.

    How to use it: Check
    with the carrier and neighbors first, shipping experts said, and don’t file a
    chargeback with your credit card issuer right away. The carrier will run a trace to
    get more information from the delivery person, such as where the package was
    left. If that’s unsuccessful, use your Amazon account to contact the seller. Notify
    the seller of the delivery problem and seek a refund or replacement. If that’s
    unsuccessful, begin a claim under the A-to-Z Guarantee via the order page.

    Layer 2: Credit card
    purchase protection benefits

    Use this as a backup if Amazon denies your claim.

    The A-to-Z
    guarantee may be denied if the seller proves delivery was made, or if you fail
    to respond to a request for more information – or if you file a chargeback
    through your credit card. Some card issuers – notably Discover – have moved
    away from the purchase protection benefit, but many mainstream cards still carry it.

    For example, the Chase Amazon Rewards card purchase
    protection requires the claim to filed within 120 days. You’ll need your
    receipt and documentation that you have reported the theft. You may also need
    to file a claim with your home or renter insurance, as the card benefit kicks
    in after other insurance is exhausted. However, this requirement may be waived
    if you show that the insurance policy’s deductible is larger than the loss
    value. Be aware that some items are ineligible for price protection, such as
    antiques, used articles, medical equipment, perishables and consumables such as
    cosmetics and perfume.

    Last resort:

    Renters’ or homeowners’ insurance policies usually provide coverage
    for theft. However, the deductibles under these policies are often several
    hundred dollars higher than typical online purchases, shipping experts say.
    Designed to replace items stolen in break-ins and burglaries, the coverage
    usually requires that a police report be filed. On the plus side, it will be
    easy to document the value of the loss with your receipt.

    Grabham started his Package Guard company after a delivery
    of coats for the homeless was taken from his porch. The seller – Walmart in his
    case – replaced the items, but not in time for the event his charity in
    Seattle was sponsoring.

    Preventing theft “is a hard problem,” he said, “unless
    you’re in a building with a doorman.” Having items shipped to the workplace can
    be a solution, he said. But as a bus commuter to his office downtown, Grabham
    said he knows this is unwieldy for users of public transit.

    Gibbs of Refund Retriever has a doorbell with motion sensors
    that takes a picture of activity on his porch and sends it to his phone. But he
    says simple steps – such as asking neighbors to take in packages left in plain
    sight – can help a lot. Consumers who rely entirely on theft coverage after-the-fact
    will make themselves a target.

     “Thieves are going to
    prey on those people who think, ‘Ah, it’ll be OK,’” he said.

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