5 Amazon Scams To Avoid (And How To Spot Them Before It’s Too Late!)
In 2019, Amazon overtook Apple and became the world’s most valuable brand. Since then, the retail giant has continued to maintain its status as a top global brand, and happy customers aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed.
As Amazon’s revenue climbed, scammers watched from the shadows. In the past few months alone, AARP’s Fraud Watch Network helpline (877-908-3360 toll-free) has witnessed a dramatic spike in Amazon scams targeting U.S. consumers, jumping from 10-30 million robocalls each month to a whopping 150 million!
As scammers claw for our personal and financial information, it’s more important than ever to be prepared. Take a look at the list below for five common Amazon scams and tips for how to spot them before it’s too late.
1. “Suspicious activity on your online account”
Ironically, some scammers trick unsuspecting victims into giving their personal information by pretending the consumer has already been scammed.
The tactic here is fear-based, scaring consumers to act fast. You might receive a spontaneous robocall reporting “suspicious activity” on your account (a missing package, an unusual order, etc.). The caller may ask you to “press one” or call another number to speak to a customer support representative that can address the issue. Don’t fall for it!
The next caller will likely solicit your account information and may even try and prompt you to install remote access software, giving them full access to your device.
2. Fake order confirmations
It’s perfectly normal to receive an order confirmation email from Amazon, so some scammers fool users by sending fake confirmation emails with items the user did not purchase.
Once again, scammers are relying on the user’s panic. You may think your card’s been (or will be) charged for an item (or even an Amazon Prime subscription) that you did not order. These messages have a phone number you can call or internal links you can click on to log in to your account and cancel the order. The reality, however, is those links lead to a fake login page, designed to capture a user’s login credentials.
Instead, leave your inbox and log in to your Amazon account via your web browser. Check “Your Orders” to see if there’s anything that matches the email. If you can’t find a match, odds are you’ve been targeted by a scammer and should report the message to Amazon.
3. “Congratulations! You’ve won a prize!”
Another trick of the trade scammers may use to steal your information is the fake prize message. Perhaps you’ve won a raffle or are eligible for an attractive discount. Whatever you do, don’t bite.
This classic phishing scam uses a victim’s joy and excitement against them, but the strategy is quite similar to the “order confirmation” scam. The text or email often includes a link consumers can click to redeem their prize and arrange for its delivery. Once again, scammers use the link to capture and steal your information, so avoid clicking on any suspicious links. Instead, log in to your account and/or call Amazon’s customer service center for assistance.
4. “Please send Amazon gift cards”
This scam may sound unusual, but unfortunately, it’s both common and complex.
In fact, scammers use Amazon gift cards for a variety of scams. Instead of posing as an Amazon representative, the scammer may pretend to be someone you know, such as a co-worker or boss, or perhaps even a relative. The scammer may request Amazon gift cards for a family member who’s facing an emergency or a contribution to a co-worker’s birthday gift. You may be encouraged to purchase Amazon gift cards as payment for an online product or as payback for an alleged fine or bill.
While there are a number of ways scammers use gift cards to steal your money, you should always be wary if a caller (even a caller you “know”) requests Amazon gift cards.
5. Fake Amazon listings
If you ever spot an Amazon deal that’s too good to be true, don’t be so quick to “Add to Cart.”
These supposedly stellar bargains can be difficult to catch. Some scammers even hire accomplices, who purchase the product and ship it to a random consumer so they can write a fake review. As a result, these products have not only attractive price tags but also great reviews as well. (This helps to convince shoppers that the seller is legitimate).
My husband Steve received a handful of Amazon packages addressed to “Sev” last year, all of which were likely purchased and shipped indirectly by the seller.
The good news is Amazon can often catch these devious sellers before shoppers have a chance to “Buy Now.” The bad news is the scam still happens, so make sure you know how to spot these phony listings.
How to spot an Amazon scam before it’s too late
Scammers are good at what they do, but there are still plenty of red flags you can watch out for to protect yourself from falling for their tricks. Here are some common signs of scammers and tips to help you catch them in the act:
- Poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation (in texts and emails).
- The message requests that you log in to your account via email.
- The message requests payments to be made outside of the Amazon website.
- The caller requests remote access to your electronic device.
- The message asks you to verify sensitive personal information.
- The message offers a refund you were not expecting.
- You receive an order confirmation for an item you did not purchase.
- The message asks you to update payment information (not linked to an order you placed or service you subscribed to).
- The email address does not end in “@amazon.com.”
What to do if you suspect you’re being scammed
If you’re suspicious of a call, email, or text that claims to be from an Amazon representative, do not respond. Instead, visit your account online to see if the message or call you’ve received is accurate, and contact Amazon customer service to verify (only use the contact information listed on Amazon’s site).
If you’re concerned a scammer may already have your account information, change your password immediately. Additionally, if the scammer may have your bank information, contact your bank for help figuring out the next steps in order to protect your account. To prevent future scams, consider downloading a call blocker. Amazon also suggests their users set up two-step verification to protect their accounts.
Finally, report any suspicious calls, emails, or texts to Amazon, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help inform and protect other Amazon customers.
“You’ve won a prize!” “This call is to inform you of suspicious activity on your Amazon account.”
Messages like these are truthful at times, but they’ve also become common introductions used by thousands of scammers to steal your information.
To protect yourself from a scammer’s traps, make sure you’re aware of common scammer tactics and strategies. Be skeptical of suspicious messages, and if you’re worried a scammer may be targeting you, report them to Amazon, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).