Careful with that FedEx account number

Taken from RISKS Digest 24.43:

Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 10:45:49 -0700
From: Matt Wilbur <[email protected]>
Subject: Careful with that Fedex account number

Sending packages with Fedex is now easier than ever, thanks to the website. Unfortunately, it’s too easy. In most cases, if you know a company’s account number, you can send whatever you like using the site, assuming you have a pulse, a browser, and access to the Internet.

We recently had an angry ex-employee use our account number to send multiple small dollar amount packages all over the place. The dollar value was too low for the authorities, and it was really just a nuisance. Our “Fedex
person” called Fedex to stop this, and customer service told her the only way was to change our account number. This would be painful, so we sent him letters telling him to stop. It didn’t. We called Fedex again, this time asking for security, using words/phrases like “fraud,” “theft,” and “you will have to pay when we reverse the charges.” We didn’t get anyone from Security, but they did begin to listen.

After being bounced around at fedex, we learned the following:

  • Unless you take specific action (enable and configure Shipping Administration for your account within Ship Manager on the website), anyone on the planet can create a account, associate it with your account number, and ship whatever, wherever they way, third party included.

  • there is no way, even with shipping administrator, within, to view the logins associated with your account. We had to call and insist on a list – for “security” reasons they could not email or otherwise send us a list, but were able to tell us logins, names, last login, and email of active accounts.

After setting up Shipping Administration, we verified that this ex-employee (or anyone else we don’t approve) can no longer set up a new login and associate it with our account.

After about an hour on the phone, we were able to get his login deleted (and learn all of this additional information about their system).

Risks? For Fedex? Not defaulting to a more secure configuration (like, want to use fedex on the web? First sign-in associated with that fedex account must set up “Shipping Administrator” to prevent unauthorized use). Building an application with all the shipping capabilities imaginable available, and very little for the account holder to manage access and security. Not having a security contact or phone number listed, or accessible by calling in to customer service. Money lost to fraud by abuse of this system.

For the Fedex user? Giving your fedex account number to third parties who may ship things to you, unless you know and trust them, and trust their handling of your account number. Not watching your bills closely. Signing up and using for a service that, when you think about it, is far too easy to use to have any built-in safety.

5 thoughts on “Careful with that FedEx account number”

  1. I am glad you wrote this article. Unfortunately I gave out my fedex account number and have a suspicion that they will abuse it. Did your company have to pay for all the unauthorised shipment? How do you enable and configure Shipping Administration for your account within Ship Manager on the website?


  2. I just open an acc with fedex and I have to close it for now. thank.
    I do not want anybody to use my acc, I know someone got it and i’m afraid that person will use it.
    help me cancel it please!!

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