Has Amazon or another service contacted you to confirm a recent purchase you didn’t make or to tell you that your account has been hacked? According to the FTC’s Data Spotlight, since July 2020, about one in three people who have reported a business impersonator scam say the scammer pretended to be Amazon.
These scams can look a few different ways. In one version, scammers offer to “refund” you for an unauthorized purchase but “accidentally transfer” more than promised. They then ask you to send back the difference. What really happens? The scammer moves your own money from one of your bank accounts to the other (like your Savings to Checking, or vice versa) to make it look like you were refunded. Any money you send back to “Amazon” is your money (not an overpayment) — and as soon as you send it out of your account, it becomes theirs. In another version of the scam, you’re told that hackers have gotten access to your account — and the only way to supposedly protect it is to buy gift cards and share the gift card number and PIN on the back. Once that information is theirs, the money is, too.
Here are some ways to avoid an impersonator scam:
- Never call back an unknown number. Use the information on Amazon’s website and not a number listed in an unexpected email or text.
- Don’t pay for anything with a gift card. Gift cards are for gifts. If anyone asks you to pay with a gift card – or buy gift cards for anything other than a gift, it’s a scam.
- Never give anyone your passwords. Scammers often ask you to log into your bank account or ask for your login information to confirm their phony payments.
- Don’t give remote access to someone who contacts you unexpectedly. This gives scammers easy access to your personal and financial information—like access to your bank accounts.
- Have you spotted this scam? Report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
If you think someone has gotten access to your accounts or personal information, visit IdentityTheft.gov. There, you’ll find steps to take to see if your identity has been misused, and how to report and recover from identity theft.