With postal delivery kicking into overdrive for Christmas, it means an influx of grinches will soon grace your porches to poach your presents.  Last year, 23 million Americans lost a package before they could even open it.  Police call these package snatchers the “porch pirate.”

The Hour wants residents to prepare for a rise in package grabbers and delivery scams that come with the Christmas territory.  With the holiday fast approaching and money a bit tighter than usual, no one wants to lose a present.  Especially to a porch pirate.

Howard Schwartz, a Better Bureau spokesman, says here’s how to maintain total control over this holiday delivery season:

“Whether it is at your front door or a common lobby in an apartment or condominium complex, there is a chance the merchandise may be stolen […] To prevent package theft, arrange to have gifts you bought delivered to a neighbor, trusted friend, or your workplace.’’

This is especially true if you live in an area that has already been targeted by delivery grabbers.  They always return to the scene of the crime…

Schwartz also recommends tracking your package and frequently checking its time of arrival.  That way, you know exactly when the package is at your front door.

He says it’s not uncommon for thieves to follow delivery trucks around in hopes of stealing a freshly delivered package.  Meaning, depending on where you live, your present might have a limited time before a package pirate grabs it.

So, if you wish to keep your packages in your possession, police say it’s best to be paranoid than sorry.  By taking extra precautions, you ensure your packages remain in your possession at all times.

Police recommend you schedule your delivery time so it arrives when you’re definitely home.  Officials also encourage residents to ask a neighbor or family friend pick up a precious package if you’re unavailable.  This also works if you have your package delivered at your workplace instead of home.  In addition, police say if you have a back door that’s out of plain sight, request the deliveryman to leave the packages there instead.

There’s also no harm in asking for an authorized signature to deliver your package.  That way, if no one’s home to sign, the mailman will simply bring it to the post office for pick up.  Sure, it does inconvenience you, but if it’s a flat screen TV in the mail, I’d rather drive to the post office than come home to an empty porch!

All of these options protect your gifts from a porch pirate.

There is also a new type of scheme affecting holiday shoppers this year.  Schwartz cautioned of a rise in fake “failure to deliver” emails and phone calls.  Scammers will claim their driver was unable to leave the package, so the person must set up a new delivery time by clicking a link.

“It is not unusual to receive a parcel with a gift you bought or sent by someone else. […] As a result, someone might not have any reason to doubt that an email or phone call, supposedly from a delivery company, is fake.”

As to what happens should someone fall for the scheme:

“[The] links and attachments will likely unleash a virus or other malware that can track your log-ins and passwords as you travel the internet or corrupt your computer files.’’

This scenario makes you lose something invariably more precious than a package.  You can always replace a package, but private data is a whole new ball game.

Make extra sure the link you click on is legitimate.  You don’t want to grant these unsavory people access to the invaluable information on your computer.  You can always call USPS, FedEx, and UPS if something doesn’t feel right.

Always check the sender’s email address or phone number.  If it doesn’t come up in a quick Google search, ignore it and carry on.

Have you ever lost a package to a porch pirate?  What do you do now to prevent them from coming back?

What do you think? Comment below