With the holidays coming up, beware of online criminals posing as delivery services, warns central government

Research shows: three in five Dutch people occasionally receive a fake message that appears to come from a delivery service, large proportion insufficiently check sender  

Beware of online criminals posing as delivery services. New research by the central government shows that three in five Dutch people occasionally receive a fake message that appears to come from a delivery service. The sender is often not checked: almost half of the people who occasionally receive fake messages barely check such a message when they expect to receive a similar message. Around the holidays, millions of Dutch people have their Christmas shopping delivered to their homes. Among all the messages about the status of the delivery, a fake message is much less noticeable. With the campaign "Don’t let yourself be duped online", the Dutch government calls on everyone to carefully check the sender of online messages and, if in doubt, to click the message away. 

Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius:  “Online criminals abuse your good faith by posing as a well-known organisation. These criminals know that many people are less likely to recognise a fake message if they actually expect a similar message at such a time. Especially in the busy month of December. That's why I say: 'don't let yourself be duped online!”

Too trusting

The majority of Dutch people (85%) occasionally receive a fake message via e-mail, SMS or WhatsApp. Half of these even once or several times a month. Although almost nine in 10 people (86%) say they check the sender if they doubt the trustworthiness of an online message, almost half (43%) pay less attention to it when a message from that alleged organisation is expected at that moment. And this is not without consequences, as those who pay less attention to checking a message are almost three times more likely to click on a fake link.

Infected, hacked or lost money

People often click on a fake link because the fake message seems credible or applicable to them at the time. Three in ten people sometimes click on such a link because they are expecting a package at that moment. The most common consequences of clicking on a fake link: an infected device (with a virus, malware or spyware) and financial loss. "Even if you are expecting a message from a company or government agency, it is important to stay alert and check the sender before clicking on a link in such a message," says Frederiek Burlage, Police Cybercrime Specialist.

Don't let yourself be duped online

The multi-year campaign by the Ministry of Justice and Security and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations urges people to carefully check the sender of online messages and when in doubt, click or swipe away. At laatjenietinterneppen.nl, people can find more information on how to recognise this kind of online deception and what to do about it.

About the survey

The survey was conducted in November 2023 by Verian (formerly Kantar Public) on behalf of the central government. The representative sample consists of 1,033 Dutch people aged 18 years and over.