AARP helpline confirms rise
This year, Amazon scams originating from robocalls, texts and emails have been among the top five complaints to AARP’s Fraud Watch Network helpline (877-908-3360 toll-free). “Consumer reliance on delivery services such as Amazon during the pandemic has created an environment where Amazon-related scams are now almost as prevalent as some government impostor scams,” says Mark Fetterhoff, a helpline official.
The Amazon-scam robocalls tend to start with someone saying there has been suspicious activity on your account, and then he asks you to press 1 or call another phone number. Next, the scammer may ask for your Amazon account information. Or he may ask to help you by taking over control of your computer via software that lets him gain access to your credit card, banking and other sensitive information — so he can steal your identity and your money.
When call volume soars like this, it suggests the scams are working, Quilici says. “It becomes a trend, and criminals are like everybody else: They’ll jump on the latest trend.”
One tip-off to a scamming robocall is the use of incorrect grammar or stilted wording, because the calls often don’t originate from countries with native English speakers, he adds.
Amazon acknowledges problem
Amazon, for its part, says it is aware that scammers are using the company name to defraud people. It advises consumers to report the matter to the company and to the Federal Trade Commission.
“These bad actors are misusing our brand to deceive the public, and we will hold them accountable,” Kathryn Sheehan, Amazon’s vice president of business conduct and ethics, said in a statement urging consumers to be vigilant “no matter where they shop.”
Amazon just sued some marketers who were allegedly sending fraudulent text messages, pretending to be the company, to drive traffic to online sites selling products and services not related to Amazon. These scammers, who promise rewards for filling out fake surveys, are paid fees for driving traffic to certain merchants.
Another tip from Amazon: While some of its departments call customers, the retailer will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information or offer a refund that you do not expect. Amazon suggests protecting your online account with a two-step verification system.
The best advice, says Quilici of YouMail, is not to trust that any incoming calls are coming from the number showing on your caller ID. If you aren’t sure, hang up and log on to your account to find the company’s customer service number, he adds.