You spent a lot of time scouring dozens of sites to scoop up the best holiday deals. Now comes the hard part: waiting for your packages to arrive.
But you're not the only one waiting for your packages to land on your doorstep. Bad actors are too. And even if your package is insured, if it's stolen after it's been delivered to you, there's a good chance you won't be able to get reimbursed from the carrier.
Reports of porch pirates, or thieves who steal packages left outside people's homes, spike during the holiday season as the volume of deliveries grow.
Over the past 12 months, 260 million packages worth $19.5 billion were stolen by porch pirates, according to data from SafeWise, a home safety research company.
Want to prevent your packages from ending up in their arms? Read on to find out how.
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Sign up for delivery updates
Most of the time when you order something online, you're told it will arrive in somewhere between three to seven business days. Once your package is shipped or in the process of being shipped, you'll get a tracking number. Don't ignore that email.
The tracking number is usually hyperlinked directly to the carrier shipping your package. If not, the site where you purchased the goods should provide you with that information.
UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and FedEx all let users sign up for delivery updates via email or text so you can get a more precise window of when your package will arrive. This way you can plan to be home when it gets there or arrange to have a neighbor or friend hold onto your delivery for you.
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Give delivery instructions
Instead of having your package delivered out in the open near your front door, you can give instructions to your package carrier.
If your purchase is being delivered by the postal service, enter your tracking number online. Near where the status of your package appears, there should be an option to provide delivery instructions. Once you log in or create an account if you don't already have one, you can specify where you want your package left at your home, or you can even have it delivered to a neighbor instead.
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UPS spokesperson Jim Mayer told USA TODAY that they "train our drivers to place packages out of sight and out of weather when they make deliveries." But you can also give instructions through their free service, UPS My Choice.
If you aren't going to be home when your package is estimated to arrive or feel uncomfortable asking someone to hold on to it for you, you can submit a hold mail request with the postal service. This will ensure that your packages are stored safely at your local post office for up to 30 days.
Amazon Prime members can also select what day they want all their packages to be delivered in a given week. For bulkier packages, you may be able to select a time of delivery at checkout. For other purchases, instead of getting two-day delivery, you may be able to select an alternate day at the checkout.
Have your packages delivered to a secure locker
Prime members can have their packages delivered free of charge to a Prime locker. But you must pick it up within three days of when it was dropped off. UPS also has a 24/7 locker service where you can have your packages shipped.
Install a camera outside your home to keep porch pirates away
Nothing screams deterrent quite like a camera that can catch a would-be thief. Of course, it won't physically stop someone from stealing your packages. But if they do, you can turn over the footage to the police to more easily identify the culprit.
Some security cameras were heavily discounted as part of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Some of the discounts are still live.
Contact your credit card company or home insurance provider
If all else fails and you purchased the stolen packages with a credit card, there's a good chance you could be eligible for reimbursement.
For instance, American Express states that "delivered packages nabbed from the front porch" that were purchased with one of their credit cards could be "protected up to $1,000 per incident."
Any purchase made with a credit card issued by Chase is covered under a similar program. Be sure to check with your credit card company to see what they might cover. Importantly debit cards tend to have fewer purchase protections than credit cards.
If you have home or renters insurance you may be able to file a claim to get partially reimbursed for the stolen goods. The amount you'll receive from the insurance company depends on what your deductible is. So if your deductible is $500 a year and the stolen package is worth $50 you won't get any money back.
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Finally, you should contact the seller or retailer you purchased the goods from. If you purchased the goods through Amazon, you can request a refund by going to your orders, selecting the item that was stolen and clicking "problem with order" and the option stating that the item hasn't arrived. There you should be able to request a refund.
Different retailers have different policies so it's worth reaching out to them to find out what they can do for you if your package was stolen.
Mayer from UPS says "customers can also contact UPS and we will work with the retailer."
Elisabeth Buchwald is a personal finance and markets correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @BuchElisabeth and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: When a porch pirate steals your package, here's what can be done