Amazon Scams to Avoid at All Costs
Thwart scammers in their paths by not falling for any of these scams.
Keep your private information safe by avoiding these Amazon scams
Unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage of scams out in the world. Phone call scams, email scams, text scams, and online scams exist as attempts to take personal information from the public. Scammers can even pose as representatives from big companies, like Amazon, in attempts to steal customers’ information. One way to keep yourself safe from these scams is to know what they are and how to identify them. Here are some big Amazon scams to avoid, and what steps you can take to keep your private information safe.
Why do scammers want your information?
Ray Walsh, a digital privacy expert with ProPrivacy, says scammers want your information for a few reasons. “A scammer’s primary desire is to steal personal information and gain control of people’s devices to steal data that is useful for the purposes of engaging in fraud or identity theft.” Scammers can use your captured data to access your accounts, make purchases, and engage in other fraudulent activities. Scammers can get this information through multiple scams, including Apple ID phishing scams.
Amazon scams to avoid
Now that we know why these scammers want your information, here are some Amazon scams to avoid to protect it from falling into the wrong hands.
Phone calls about your Amazon Prime account
Walsh says people must watch out for a specific scam involving a phone call regarding your Amazon Prime account. Typically, the scammer will call someone and tell them that a Prime account has been taken out under their name. They’ll then transfer the unsuspecting customer to someone claiming to be an Amazon customer support agent but is actually a scammer trying to steal their personal data. They can also try to get the customer to do something dangerous. “[Scammers] attempt to coerce them into installing remote access software that gives the scammer direct access to their machine to steal personal information for the purposes of engaging in fraud and identity theft,” Walsh explains. By the way, if you receive a phone call you don’t recognize from one of these area codes, it could be a scam call.
Phone calls about unauthorized purchases from your account
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns people about a specific phone call scammers use to scare people into giving up their information. The phone call typically says there’s something wrong with your Amazon account. They could mention an order that can’t be fulfilled, suspicious activity on your account, or that one of your packages has been lost. The call may ask you to press 1 to connect with a representative to straighten it out. If you receive a phone call like this, the FTC urges you to hang up the phone and not press 1. If the scammers give you a phone number to call, do not call that number—and by all means, do not give out your personal information at any point during the call. An example of this call can be heard on the FTC’s website.
Text messages saying you won a prize
If you receive a text message supposedly from Amazon that says you’ve won a prize or raffle, do not click the link! The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that scammers claiming to be from Amazon are texting people and saying they’ve won a prize. The text message then encourages people to click the link to arrange the prize’s delivery. If you receive this message, do not click the link—it could be a link to a phishing website that aims to steal your Amazon login credentials, financial information, and other personal information. If you’re sick and tired of getting texts like this, here’s how to stop spam texts on your phone.
Fake confirmation emails
Confirmation emails are meant to tell us that our order is placed, but scammers can use fake confirmation emails to steal your account information. “Scammers often leverage fake Amazon order confirmation emails to panic victims into following a link to a fake Amazon login page,” Walsh explains. “If the victim falls for the scam and enters their credentials into the page, the scammer will steal that information and be able to access and take control of the account.”
If you receive a confirmation email and aren’t sure if it’s real, go to your Amazon account and look under “Your Orders” to see if any orders match the details in the email. If they don’t, that’s a major red flag that the email is a scam. For instance, if you ordered cleaning products on Amazon, the confirmation email details including the items’ names, the order’s cost, and the order’s delivery date should match the details in your account.
“Congratulations, you’ve won!” or discount emails
Just like with the congratulatory text messages previously mentioned, if you get an email that seems to be from Amazon saying you’ve won a prize or are eligible for a discount, use caution before clicking any links. These could be phishing emails used to steal your information. “Those emails leverage people’s excitement to get them to act without thinking, and forward them to a scam website that captures any of the personal information they enter to claim their voucher or prize,” Walsh says.
Scams involving Amazon gift cards
Unfortunately, there are many scams that involve the use of Amazon gift cards. Ryan O’Ramsay Barrett, founder and CEO of ORAM Corporate Advisors, warns about a specific gift card scam involving your workplace. You might get a scam email pretending to be a co-worker, your boss, or even a higher-level executive at your workplace. “It may say something like, “I forget my wallet at home. Can you please go buy me 10 Amazon gift cards and send me the numbers over the phone or by email?” Barrett explains. “The scam goes on when you give the numbers from the card over the phone and the phone hangs up, or if you give the numbers by email.”
That’s not the only Amazon gift card scam to look out for, though. According to Amazon, here are some other notable Amazon gift card scams:
- COVID-19 scams: You get an email or text message requesting that you buy Amazon gift cards and send the cards or the claim codes to someone to help with COVID-19 treatments or efforts.
- Job offer scams: You get a call that encourages you to apply to a work-from-home Amazon job. It talks about great pay and making your own hours. There’s a catch, though—if the scammer tells you that you got the job, they may ask you to buy a starter kit or pay a start-up fee with Amazon gift cards.
- Family emergency scams: Scammers may call or email you and claim to be a lawyer, law enforcement agent, or another representative for a family member. They’ll say this person is in distress and needs your financial help right away. They may tell you to buy Amazon gift cards to settle the matter.
How can you tell if it’s a scam?
One key way to tell if something is an Amazon scam is if the message you’re receiving is leveraging your emotions against you. “Whether you receive a call, an email, or a text message purporting to be from Amazon, always consider whether it is making you feel heightened emotions,” Walsh explains. “And if it is making you feel excited or scared, then it is vital to carefully consider whether you are being scammed.”
The urgency of these requests is also a telltale sign of a scam. “Most scams will create an event for you to do something immediately, and that should be a red flag,” Barrett says.
When it comes to phone calls, Amazon’s help and customer service documents state that while some of Amazon’s departments make outbound calls to customers, legitimate Amazon representatives will never ask you to provide or verify personal information. So if you receive a phone call claiming to be from Amazon and they ask for personal information, that’s a red flag.
If you receive an email, Walsh says to look at it carefully. Are there spelling and/or grammar mistakes in the email? If so, that could be an indicator that the email is fake. Also, take a look at the sender’s email address—does it look legitimate? If you have doubts, play it safe and don’t click on anything in the email.
Also, there are things that simply seem too good to be true—and most of the time, they are. If you randomly receive a $500 Amazon gift card or a $1,000 Amazon voucher via email or text, don’t click the links. If you want to know if it’s real, contact Amazon directly to get confirmation. The same thing can be said for something you see on Facebook—if it seems way too good to be true, it could be a Facebook scam.
What to do if you’ve fallen for an Amazon scam
There may come a time when you fall for an Amazon scam. If you do, it’s important to act fast. Walsh says to change your Amazon password immediately, and if you use the same password for multiple accounts in your name, change those passwords, too.
If your financial information has been compromised, try to get ahead of the scammers before they attempt to use your information. “Contact the police and your bank to cancel any cards or accounts you believe have been put at risk, and freeze any accounts that could be defrauded,” Walsh advises. It’s also important to monitor your credit to ensure no new accounts are created or loans are taken out in your name. If you received a scam message from someone pretending to be your superior or co-worker, Barrett recommends contacting your work’s IT department and the person the scammer pretended to be as soon as possible.
How to protect yourself from Amazon scams
- Do not click suspicious links in emails or text messages.
- Do not give your personal information out via phone, email, or text.
- Scan emails for grammatical errors and/or spelling mistakes.
- If you receive an email, check the sender’s email address to see if it’s legitimate.
- Report any scam messages you get to Amazon.
- Double-check everything. If you get a message about an order, check if it’s listed under the “Your Orders” section in your account. Compare the details and see if it’s legitimate.
- Keep up with the news and do your research on any new Amazon scams that may come up.
- Trust your gut. If you have doubts about the message’s legitimacy, don’t engage with it.
Remember, if you have questions about a message you received that seems to be from Amazon, you can call their customer service line at 1 (888) 280-4331 to attempt to verify its legitimacy. Next, read up on common online scams to be aware of—and how to avoid them.
- Ray Walsh, privacy expert at ProPrivacy
- Federal Trade Commission: “Fake calls from Apple and Amazon support: What you need to know”
- Better Business Bureau: “BBB Warning: You got lucky and won a raffle from Amazon!? Watch out; it’s another scam”
- Amazon: “Identifying Whether an Email, Phone Call, Text Message, or Webpage is from Amazon”
- Ryan O’Ramsay Barrett, founder and CEO of ORAM Corporate Advisors
- Amazon: “Common gift card scams”