Scams come in different forms, many of which include well-known companies and organizations. Today, we’re going to take a look at one that uses Amazon to lure victims into sharing their personal data, including their Amazon credentials.
Called “Amazon unauthorized purchase scam,” this is a sort of phishing scam that involves sending victims an email from “Amazon” to inform them that an expensive item has been purchased through their Amazon account. To avoid being charged for this alleged transaction, users would have to either call a specific number or click on a link to contact customer support.
Obviously, this email doesn’t come from Amazon but from savvy scammers looking to trick users into handing them out their personal data, including their Amazon credentials. And once the scammer has those details, he/she will be able to make actual purchases through the user’s account.
The irony of this scam is obvious – as the user tries to rectify a bogus purchase, he/she ends up falling victim to the real thing.
How to identify the Amazon unauthorized purchase scam?
The first thing you should know is that today’s scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated in the way they design their emails, making it hard to distinguish between their message and the one Amazon would send.
However, you can do several things, such as:
Check the sender’s email address
Does it really come from the “amazon.com” address or something else which may look similar? Scammers are known for purchasing similarly sounding domains to trick users into trusting their emails. Also, look for misspellings – if they’re present, chances are it’s a scammer’s email. After all, Amazon has a small army of people responsible for communication, and it’s likely they won’t be making spelling errors.
Check the content thoroughly
Beyond misspells, look for other details such as generic greetings (i.e. “Hello friend” or “Dear customer”), weird logos and everything else that doesn’t sound right. Chances are you did receive emails from Amazon in the past and should be able to distinguish between the fake message and the real deal.
Cross-check the number
If you got a phone call — or there is a phone number in the email — make sure to cross-check it. Scam emails tend to have a preceding country code, which you should take as a red flag and immediately delete the message.
Don’t provide information easily
Amazon will never ask you to send your personal information via email. If you are required to log in to input some details, make sure to double-check the URL. If there is no “amazon.com” in the URL, close the window and delete the email. It’s that simple.
What can you do when you find an Amazon unauthorized purchase scam?
We suggest reporting the scam to Amazon directly. On their end, they should be able to do something about it, like work with big email service providers to help them improve their spam filters. As a result, other people will be protected, at least until scammers change their tactics — and they always do. You could also spread out the news about the scam to protect your friends and colleagues.
Or, if you have already fallen victim to the scam (and we hope that is not the case), in addition to contacting Amazon – you should also report the matter to your local authorities and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via their website or their hotline 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Not the only Amazon scam around…
Before letting you go, we should also tell you about other Amazon-related scams, which could just as easily come with the branding of other major companies.
- “Suspicious activity detected” alerts – where, of course, your action is required.
- Fake prizes or gifts – luring you into clicking on a link.
- Tech support scams – in which scammers pose as Amazon tech support telling you about some issues that need to be resolved.
- Failed deliveries – again, your action (read: click) is required.
- “Alternative” payment methods – because Amazon can’t handle credit card payments? Say what?
It can be a scary world out there, so you better know what you’re doing. While we try to keep you in the loop with the latest scams, there is only so much we can do. At the end of the day, it will be up to you to decide whether a link is worth clicking or not. Whenever you doubt something, just forget about it. Deleting an email from Amazon will seldom put you in danger.