Avoid These 7 Popular Amazon Scams

Inside Subprime: Dec 14, 2018

By Lindsay Frankel 

Amazon is the world’s top online retailer, and continues to grow rapidly, bringing more users into its corner of the retail market. The number of Amazon Prime members doubled from 40 million just three years ago to 80 million in 2017. And the company brought in a whopping $177.9 billion in net sales last year. So it’s no wonder that the business attracts fraudsters, scam artists, and identity thieves. Most commonly, phony sellers use the platform to set up fake accounts, taking buyers’ money without delivering any goods. But there are also email phishing scams, gift card scams, and other threats associated with the Amazon name. Here’s what to look for, and how you can protect yourself.

Gift Card Scams

This popular scams involves fraudsters marketing discounts on goods paid for with Amazon gift cards, either via phone or online. Amazon warns that legitimate transactions will never  require gift card payment, and that you should never use Amazon gift cards outside of Amazon. Don’t fall for scam artists’ urgent requests for your claim code, and never give any gift card details to someone you don’t trust.

Fake Listings

Sometimes, fraudsters will list goods or services claiming to be an Amazon seller. If a seller requires that you pay with a gift card, walk away, even if it seems like a great deal. Typically, these phony sellers disappear after you give them your gift card information, never delivering the goods or services promised.

Job Offer Scams

Amazon is known to pay well and offer comprehensive benefits, so a job offer from Amazon can be enticing, and scam artists will take advantage. Usually, the fraudster will ask for an upfront finder’s fee after you contact them about a fake employment listing you saw online or are offered a position over the phone. To avoid this scam, never give your credit card, bank account, or gift card information to someone you don’t know.

Phishing Scams

The goal behind this scam is identity theft, so it’s a particularly dangerous one to fall victim to. In this scam, you’ll receive an email from someone claiming to be an Amazon customer service representative. They’ll ask you to update your information or confirm personal data to ensure a recent purchase is processed. But Amazon assures customers that they will “never send you an unsolicited e-mail that asks you to provide sensitive personal information like your social security number, tax ID, bank account number, credit card information, ID questions like your mother’s maiden name or your password. If you receive a suspicious e-mail please report it immediately.

Amazon Award Fraud

In this scam, you’ll get a phony award email from Amazon asking you to click a link to get a gift card. The message frequently says: “This $1,000 Amazon gift card is reserved for you.” But Amazon never offers free or deeply discounted $1,000 gift cards to loyal customers. Instead, the email is coming from a scammer intending to steal your private information. Delete any suspicious emails that seem too good to be true. Sometimes, scam awards will also show up as a pop-up ad.

Amazon Review Scam

If someone offers you $50-$100 to write an Amazon.com review, ignore the request. This scam usually crops up around peak shopping times. You’ll get an email directing you to a shockingly-realistic yet fake Amazon site, incentivizing you with monetary compensation. Instead, the fake site collects your private data, which the scammer uses to commit identity theft. Simply delete all emails of this kind.

Phony Product Scam

Though Amazon monitors and regularly removes fake sellers, some still manage to sell knock-off products that aren’t worth what you paid for them. In fact, Amazon has faced lawsuits from brands believing the company doesn’t work hard enough to prevent the fake listings. Make sure to check a seller’s reviews and look for red flags before making a purchase from a marketplace seller.

Amazon offers an excellent online shopping experience, and scam artists use the trusted company’s name to defraud consumers. Be cautious of these scams, particularly those that are aimed at stealing your information, and report any fraudulent activity to Amazon.

For more information on payday loans, scams, cash advances, and title loans, check out our state and city financial guides.

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