Amazon, an online behemoth with $281 billion in sales in 2019, has long been an attractive target for fraudsters. The Seattle-based company, however, does not disclose the scope of the problem or whether fraud reports have increased since the pandemic-triggered boom in online buying.
AARP’s helpline reports a jump in complaints about frauds tied to online sales in April, May and June, compared with earlier in the year, Nofziger says. Here’s her advice:
- Beware of phony websites and phone numbers for Amazon. The actual toll-free customer-service number is 888- 280-4331.
- Don’t necessarily trust phone numbers that turn up during an internet search. For your credit card, use a customer-service number on the back of the card or on a statement.
- Hang up on unsolicited phone calls. Do not click suspicious hyperlinks.
- Don’t always believe what appears on caller ID, since calls can be spoofed. Never give a stranger remote access to your computer, since the person can “wreak havoc and steal your personal information,” Nofziger warns.
Masquerading as customer service
At Censys, an Ann Arbor, Michigan–based internet security firm, IT manager Mike Toole says con artists who pose as Amazon Prime customer support or Amazon security team members often use phishing emails or spoofed caller ID numbers.
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Fraudsters try to scare consumers into giving up personal information with fake security alerts, like this one purporting to be from Amazon, says Theresa Payton of Fortalice, a cybersecurity firm. Nefarious crooks may utilize “burner emails” for a short time, then abandon them, and even the savviest of digital shoppers have been victims of such fraud, she says.
Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice Solutions, a cybersecurity consultancy in Charlotte, North Carolina, suggests that consumers consider using one credit card for all online purchases, to be better able to spot potential fraud. Meantime, they should consider setting up alerts for all card transactions, she says.
Advice from the real Amazon
Amazon, for its part, advises consumers to watch for scams by looking for misspelled words in unsolicited emails, requests to update payment information and prompts to install software on their computer.
Amazon never sends unsolicited emails asking for sensitive information like your Social Security or tax-ID number or bank account number.
Reprinted from AARP Fraud Watch Network