Author: Ben Reckelhoff

Tracking Shows Delivered, But No Package!

Porch Pirates are Real

When it comes to receiving a much-anticipated package, chances are you are eagerly monitoring its tracking to your doorstep. Then, if your tracking shows your item as “delivered”, but you haven’t received it, you’re going to be frustrated. At first, you may not know if the item is stolen or simply lost. Although it won’t truly help, you may take some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. A 2019 report showed that 36% of all consumers had a package lost or stolen – and the average consumer orders 45 packages a year. That’s a lot of lost packages.

Right away, here’s a breakdown of how most people handle this situation:

  • 83% of people contact the seller
  • 60% contact the carrier (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.)
  • 48% check with their neighbors
  • 13% call the police

You can also take further comfort in the knowledge that, if you report a package as stolen,  around 11% of the time the porch pirate is caught. So first, take a deep breath, then proceed below.

Tracking Numbers

It may sound obvious, but first look closely at your tracking number. Packages change hands from one carrier to another all the time, and it is sometimes hard to tell which carrier is tracking the actual delivery. For this reason, it’s best to first identify which type of tracking number you have in order to accurately track the delivery.

How to tell which carrier’s tracking number you actually have:

  • UPS – begins with “1Z”.
  • FedEx Ground & Express – 12 digits (no letters). 

PRO TIP: Your FedEx tracking number is also the 21st through 34th number of the barcode.

  • USPS – 22-34 digits (no letters).
    • USPS Priority Mail Select –13 characters long, beginning with two letters and ending with “US”.
  • UPS Mail Innovations Sequence Number – 18 digits assigned internally by UPS Mail Innovations or UPS Worldship. 
    • What is UPS Mail Innovations? UPS Mail Innovations is simply a service where the carrier is initially UPS, but then final delivery may be made by the postal service. If you were to track this number on the UPS website, it may only tell you when the item was handed off to USPS. You need to run the tracking number on USPS’s website to see accurate delivery data to the final destination.
  • Amazon Logistics – Amazon uses all of the above carriers for delivery, so you may receive one of the previously mentioned tracking numbers. However, they also deliver themselves via Amazon Logistics, whose tracking numbers start with “TBA”.

Once you know which tracking number you have, visit that specific carrier’s website to check delivery status. 

When is a Package Considered Lost?

Each carrier handles lost packages differently, but generally speaking, you are advised to wait between 2-7 days after the expected delivery date before taking action for a lost package (this is especially true during global pandemics). Sometimes things just arrive late, and Amazon even states that in rare cases, items can show as delivered up to 48 hours before the item actually arrives. 

Here’s a breakdown of how each carrier handles lost packages.

USPS Missing Mail

The USPS says that this is simply “mail that has not been delivered by the expected delivery date.” You first need to wait 7 days past the delivery date before you should take action. Then you can:

  • Try and get to the bottom of it yourself at their Missing Mail Page.
  • File a Missing Mail search request online here. You’ll need to create an account first, but then you’ll receive periodic updates on the search progress.
  • Visit your local Post Office for assistance, where they will help you fill out a paper version of the Missing Mail request.
  • Call 1-800-275-8755. You can then ask for the number of your local Consumer Affairs office and they can submit a missing mail request by phone.

Amazon Missing or Stolen Packages 

At eCampus.com, we do use Amazon to fulfill some of our orders and yes, even Amazon admits that this sometimes happens. Amazon considers an item “lost” after 48 hours past the expected delivery.  After that, they suggest that you take the following steps:

  • Check to see if your package was left with a neighbor or receptionist.
  • Verify the Shipping Address
  • Look for a Sign or Notice of Attempted Delivery
  • Look Around the Delivery Location (sometimes it’s just hidden out of view).
  • If you’re expecting a box, then check the mail, and vice versa. Some packages travel through multiple carriers.

UPS Missing  or Stolen Packages

For deliveries that don’t require a signature, UPS trains their delivery personnel to leave shipments in “a safe place at the drivers discretion”. This could include the front porch, side door, back porch, or garage area. They also state that drivers may leave items “on back porches, bushes, garages, grills, or other places that might protect your package from theft or weather.” 

Then, like the others, UPS requests that you wait 24 hours after the expected delivery date and time before taking action. Unlike USPS and Amazon, UPS does not have any online self-service to help locate packages. 

UPS does have a process for senders to file a UPS lost package claim, however, this is only if the package was sent via UPS the entire way. If the package changes hands (which is frequently the case) from one carrier to another (such as UPS to USPS) during transit, this option is not available. 

FedEx Missing  or Stolen Packages 

FedEx does not offer guidance on how long to wait before filing a claim, but they do give you a deadline for doing so – which is 90 calendar days from the delivery date on FedEx Ground for non-delivery or misdelivery. Like UPS, FedEx offers an online claims process for lost packages. Luckily, this process is entirely online and looks fairly simple to complete:

  1. Visit the FedEx lost package page to file a claim.
  2. Fill out the claim form. (You’ll need your tracking number.)
  3. Add supporting documentation for the item’s value.

PRO TIP: You don’t need to provide this documentation if the item is under $100 in value.

  1. Submit.
  2. Track the status of your claim online here.

Some FedEx customers have reported that it’s faster to do this by phone, by calling 1-800-463-3339. You’ll have to say “representative” a few times, and again, you’ll need your tracking number, but then you can speak to a live person who can open a claim for you.

What Does In-Transit Mean?

In-transit means that the item is on its way to you. This can remain the status until your item is successfully delivered. In rare cases, items can get stuck in transit. An item shouldn’t remain in any one sorting facility for more than 5 business days. If this is the case, you can reach out to the carrier and ask them to contact the sorting facility where the package is stuck so they can try to locate it for you.

What Else Can I Do for Stolen Packages?

If you have already tried everything that we’ve mentioned above, here are a few more – let’s say severe – actions you can take. All of these actions are focused towards “stolen” items, since lost packages will be primarily the concern of the carriers themselves.

  1. File a complaint with the Postal Inspection Service. By doing this you are essentially reporting a crime. The only difference between the USPIS and the police (they work together jointly) is that this organization deals exclusively with issues of this sort. Here’s what you can report online through the USPIS:
    • Mail Fraud
    • Identity Theft
    • Mail Theft
    • Suspicious Mail
  2. Use Purchase Protection on your Credit Card. If you purchased with a credit card, you may have purchase protections that cover lost or stolen items. However, there’s always the fine print such as:
    • May not cover items over $500.
    • Claim period is typically 90 days after purchase.
    • You’ll need receipts.
    • You may need to file a police report also.

Here are a few credit card companies that offer some version of purchase protection:

  • Visa Infinite
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Citi
  • Chase

Tips for Preventing Package Theft

If you live in an area with high theft, there are several steps you can take to make it harder for porch pirates to steal your packages.

  1. You can sign up to have items held at the carrier facility rather than have them delivered to your home. 
  2. You can ask carriers to not leave items at the door unless the person is home.
  3. You can sign up for alerts with the carriers to know exactly when items are going to be delivered.
  4. Buy a Security System. This will help in a number of ways:
    1. Help deter, identify & catch theft.
    2. Secure your home from burglars.
    3. Lower homeowners insurance costs.

In Conclusion

As you can see, you have lots of options. Hopefully this will help ease the pain of having a lost or stolen package and give you a clear path forward. Many of these methods may not work for your situation, but it only takes one of these solutions to help you get back either your property or your money. 

Did any of these solutions work for you? Did we miss one? If so, let us know!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

FAFSA – How Does Financial Aid Work?

Financial Aid Definition

According to Wikipedia, student financial aid in the United States is funding that is available exclusively to students attending a post-secondary educational institution in the United States.

The Office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 BILLION in aid each year to help pay for college or trade school. This aid can come from a variety of sources, however, there is only one way to access these funds – by using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

When to Apply for FAFSA

The FAFSA filing timeframe always begins October 1st the year BEFORE you plan to attend school. So if you plan to attend college in fall of 2021, you can file as early as October 1st, 2020. Typically applications continue to be accepted through June 30th the year you plan to attend. 

PRO TIP: You’ll want to make sure to file as early as possible, because many states and some colleges award financial aid on a first come first served basis. 

To make things easy, here’s some upcoming filing deadlines. Go ahead and put these in your calendar:

  • June 30, 2021 | FAFSA Deadline for the 2021-22 Academic Year
  • June 30, 2020 | FAFSA Deadline for the 2020-21 Academic Year

What are the Types of Federal Student Aid?

Student aid is not always “free money” – in fact usually it’s not! It’s important to understand the differences between aid types and, more importantly, how they impact your pre and post education finances.

Grants

These are the only types of federal student aid that don’t need to be repaid – so pay attention to these. Within this category, there are 4 different types of grants. Maybe you’ve heard of a few of these:

  1. Pell Grant – The average amount is $4,271 (these figures are usually given on a ‘per year’ basis) and is primarily for undergraduates who have the greatest “financial need”.

PRO TIP: You’re going to see the words “financial need” appear a lot in the student aid requirements. If you’re wondering what that means, the department of education defines this as:

Financial need is simply defined as the difference between the student’s cost of attendance (COA) and the family’s ability to pay these costs. Note that the student’s financial need will be reduced by aid that is awarded to the student.

  1. Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – This is often awarded in addition to the Pell Grant, so if you qualify for one, you’re a priority for the other. For this reason, the amount is smaller – around $599 per year.
  2. Teacher Education Assistance (TEACH) Grant – It makes sense that educators would lobby to award aid to future educators. This is the purpose of the TEACH grant – focused exclusively to high need students in teaching programs, especially elementary or secondary school levels.
  3. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – Awarded to students whose parent or guardian was a member of the armed forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on 9/11.

Loans

If you are just graduating high school, are looking at college, and you don’t have extraordinary “financial need” but also don’t have $35,000, then chances are you probably don’t have much of a credit history either. At least not enough to secure a traditional loan for $35,000 (that’s the average cost of a 4-year degree by the way). Banks would normally never loan this much to a person with little to no financial history.

This is the main reason for the government-created William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program. Using this program, you can borrow money directly from the U.S. Department of Education rather than a bank. Like federal grants, there are also 4 different types of federal loans – but unlike grants, these will need to be repaid with interest:

  1. Direct Subsidized – These loans are made available to undergraduate students that can demonstrate “financial need”.

PRO TIP: “Subsidized” means having part of the cost paid to keep your cost low.

  1. Direct Unsubsidized – These loans are made available to students who don’t need to demonstrate “financial need” to be eligible.
  2. Direct PLUS Loans – If you don’t qualify for other types of federal student aid, you probably still qualify for this type of loan program. This is primarily for students and parents of students, who may have some credit history.
  3. Direct Consolidation Loans –  Most students require multiple sources of financing to afford college. This program allows you to roll all of your loans together under one servicer, and sometimes at a reduced interest rate.

PRO TIP:  On a standard 10-year repayment plan, a borrower  will pay $6,405 in interest or about $641 per year. Pay attention to interest rates! Source

Work-Study

Just like the name implies, a federal work-study job is there to help you earn your way through school. These are primarily community service related and possibly even something related to your field of study (it depends on your school). These jobs are always part-time and only offered while you’re enrolled.

Your FAFSA Application

Now that you know what types of college financial aid you can expect, it’s time to take the first step and visit the FAFSA Website where you will begin your application. Here’s a quick overview of the steps involved:

  1. Create a FSA ID, Username, and Password (and keep this somewhere safe).
  2. Gather Documents
    1. SSN
    2. Parent’s SSN (if you’re a dependent)
    3. Driver’s License Number
    4. Alien Registration Number (if applicable)
    5. Tax Info, such as tax returns and W-2.
    6. Income information for both you and you’re parents.
    7. Info on how much cash & savings you have.
  3. Use the documents to fill out the application
    1. Online at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
    2. On your phone using the myStudentAid mobile app.
    3. On paper by printing/mailing the FAFSA PDF.
  4. List the colleges and schools you’re interested in.
  5. Report Parents’ Info (if you’re a dependent student)

PRO TIP: You’re going to be asked a number of times if you are a dependent or independent student. If you aren’t sure, you can look this up here.

  1. Provide Your Financial Info
  2. Sign & Submit

FAFSA Customer Service

Here are all the contacts to get help with filling out your applications:

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Next, you’ll receive a report that details your eligibility for aid and is typically sent within 3-10 days, depending on how you submitted it (longer if you filled out the paper version). The SAR will NOT tell you how much money you will need to pay for college nor will it tell you how much aid you will receive. The name is misleading, but this report is mainly something you’ll want to check for accuracy, because it is used in calculations to determine those things.

Financial Aid Award Letters

Now for the fun part! 

Award letters come from the colleges that you applied to, and usually become available 1-3 months after you submitted your application. This will explain the total amount of money a school will offer you. They won’t all come at once, but you should start getting these shortly after your acceptance letters.

Here’s the order in which you should be accepting aid:

  1. Free Money (Grants)
  2. Earned Money (Work-Study)
  3. Federal Student Loans
  4. State/School-specific Loans
  5. Private Loans

The award letter will detail next steps for how to accept aid. Keep in mind that the timeline for receiving the money varies widely depending on the type of aid. Work-Study for example, will only pay after your first week on the job, which is usually AFTER you have started classes.

In Conclusion

This process is time-consuming, confusing, and often frustrating. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of both your education and the aid you receive for that education, more than compensate for your efforts. For many students, this will be one of the first steps into adulthood. You can do this – we believe in you!

Was this helpful? Did we miss something? Do you have something to add? If so let us know!

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @ecampusdotcom.