If you have an Amazon account, you have more than likely already experienced an attempted scam. The sheer number of people who do business through the global platform makes it an alluring opportunity for cybercriminals to take advantage of. There are currently over 300 million Amazon account holders across the globe, with nearly 1 in 3 Americans (roughly 95 million) owning a Prime membership. As Amazon extends its reach, services, and consumer conveniences ever further, these numbers will continue to rise.
Amazon possesses personal information on hundreds of millions of individuals. This Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is a top target of cybercriminals because of the potential value the data holds.
When cybercriminals gain access to this information, identity fraud can easily happen. While this may occur through data breaches or other situations out of your direct control as a consumer, there are also a number of tactics that threat actors employ to steal directly from the source. Here are a handful of common Amazon scams to be aware of to help limit your risk of identity theft through the platform.
A Word from Amazon
Amazon very rarely makes direct phone calls to Prime members or regular consumers. In the rare case that they do contact you, representatives will never ask for your personal information. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Amazon and they ask for your PII, it’s a scam.
Text/Email Message Prizes
If you receive a text message stating that you have won a prize, don’t get too excited – this is a scam and an easy one to spot. It is a popular tactic with cyber thieves hoping to pounce on the eager nature of emotions generated by thinking we’ve won something. The text shows up as coming from a random number with a message saying something like, “Congratulations, you’ve won a prize through Amazon Prime. Click on the link to redeem now.” Do not click on the link. It will almost always funnel you to a site that will trick you into revealing your personal information.
This same scam pops up in the form of email prize messages. Many consumers are slightly more aware of spam emails than texts, but it can still be difficult to resist the temptation to explore the possibility of winning a prize. A twist on this scam involves a subject line saying you can click a link for a discount code or some such similar phrasing.
You should never click on a link in a text or email from a contact or number that you do not recognize. But on top of that, if it claims to be an Amazon prize, that’s a glaring red flag.
Amazon Prime Phishing/Phone Calls
Phishing scams relating to your Amazon Prime account can take a few different shapes. One common scam is a phone call from a fake Amazon customer service representative stating that a new account has been created under your (the recipient of the phone call) name. By tricking you into thinking there has been an attempt to create a fake account, scammers dupe you into revealing your personal information to resolve the issue.
The other Amazon phone scam utilizes a similar fear-based tactic to glean PII. The caller might state that there has been an unauthorized purchase made under your Amazon account or that an order you have recently completed has been lost. This is often a robocall that instructs you to press a number on the keypad to talk to a representative. Do not press the button. Hang up.
Remember that Amazon very rarely makes direct calls to consumers, and they will not ask for your personal information if they do.
Gift Card Scams
There are also a handful of Amazon gift card-related scams to keep an eye out for. A common take on this scam targets businesses and employees. It appears in the form of an email claiming to be from someone higher up the food chain at the organization. An employee will receive a phony email from their boss asking them to purchase Amazon gift cards because they forgot their wallet at home. While this sounds fishy from the start, if cyberthieves gain access to a business’s email system, they can make the request appear legitimate and once again prey on the fear factor. The scammers instruct the victim to share the gift card numbers in an email response or over the phone and then the perpetrators use that gift card information to make purchases.
Several different versions of the gift card scam are in action. One involves a potential work from home opportunity with Amazon but asks that you pay a fee with gift cards to get started. Another version uses the threat of an emergency situation with someone you know to trick you into helping. The scammer might pose as a police officer or a lawyer and say that your family member is in dire trouble and needs financial assistance immediately. The only solution is, you guessed it, to purchase Amazon gift cards and tell them the numbers.
If you receive any sort of request to buy Amazon gift cards for a purpose that seems like an emergency, chances are quite high that it’s a scam. Your best bet is to hang up or cease interacting with the scammer.
You might also see an offer for an Amazon gift card or voucher in an email or text. It could be an offer for a free gift card or a message stating that you’ve won a certain amount of money to use through Amazon. Just like the email and text message prize scams highlighted earlier, this is once again an attempt for you to click on a link and reveal your personal information.
Stay Alert, Stop Scams
Knowing that these scams exist is a first step toward limiting the risk of falling victim to them. Never give out your personal information through a questionable phone call, text, or email. Don’t click on links or offers from Amazon that seem too good to be true. By staying alert to the risks and understanding how to spot a scam, you can reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.