October 29, 2020

Beware of these online shopping scams

The online holiday shopping season kicks off this week with heavily advertised promotions for Amazon Prime Day, Target Deal Days and Walmart’s The Big Save event. 

Everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Day

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And don’t the scammers know it. 

We’re being warned that 2020’s flurry of online shopping is triggering yet another scam. This time the fraudsters are impersonating Amazon, which begins its Prime Day sales at midnight going into Tuesday morning.



a close up of a box: Consumers who love to shop online are warned about various scams that could kick up around Amazon Prime Day, which runs 36-hours this year and begins Monday afternoon. File photo, a package from Amazon Prime is loaded for delivery in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)


© Mark Lennihan, AP
Consumers who love to shop online are warned about various scams that could kick up around Amazon Prime Day, which runs 36-hours this year and begins Monday afternoon. File photo, a package from Amazon Prime is loaded for delivery in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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Some recorded voice claims to be from Amazon and then tells you about a fraudulent charge on your Amazon Prime card. Or maybe the recorded message will alert you to a so-called lost or damaged package.

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Some complaints earlier in 2020 reported that consumers received emails containing an order confirmation for an item they didn’t purchase. Amazon suggests that you first go to your orders to check out what you’ve purchased and “see if there is an order that matches the details in the correspondence.”

“If it doesn’t match an order in your account in Amazon.com, or in another Amazon international website, the message isn’t from Amazon,” the company warns online. 

Much like the old phony IRS calls, the con artists want your personal information here or they might want you to send money. They may ask you for your credit card account number or account login details, according to a new warning from the Better Business Bureau. 

In some cases, they’re even so bold as to request remote access to your computer “under the guise of ‘helping’ to solve the issue,” according to the Better Business Bureau. 

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Scams involving fake tracking codes and delivery mix-ups have become quite popular during the online holiday shopping rush over the past few years. And this latest twist where scammers pretend to be from Amazon follows a similar script. 

Online shopping scams are one of the hottest tricks for ID thieves and others during the pandemic as more people work from home and shop online to limit their contact with others. 

The Federal Trade Commission received 31,922 complaints through Oct. 8 related to online shopping, making it the No. 1 category for complaints, according to the FTC’s COVID-19 and Stimulus reports. 

Here are some warnings of online shopping scams that can help on Amazon Prime Day — which runs Tuesday and Wednesday — and through the holidays.

Don’t believe it’s necessarily your bank, Amazon or FedEx reaching out to you

While some departments at Amazon will call customers, the company said they’re never going to ask you to disclose sensitive personal information or offer you a refund that you do not expect.

Amazon isn’t going to request remote access to your computer.

Amazon will never ask you to make a payment outside of its website.

Thousands of people are falling victim to phony emails, texts and calls from scammers who are impersonating big names, like Amazon, or their banks every day. And the scams are only likely to heat up more as consumers shop for holiday gifts late in the year.

Ask yourself: Does this make sense?

Why, really, would Amazon be requesting your bank account number or your Tax ID? Yet that’s just what scammers might request here.

Be careful how you pay when you shop online

Red flags of a scam include requests that you send money via wire transfer; CashApp; PayPal; prepaid debit cards, such as MoneyPak; or gift cards, like Best Buy and others. 

The Federal Trade Commission suggests that you use a credit card for online shopping. 

“If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act,” the FTC notes.

“Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. In the event that someone uses your credit card without your permission, your liability generally is limited to the first $50 in charges. Some companies guarantee that you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made to your card online; some cards provide additional warranty, return and purchase protection benefits.”

Know who you’re really dealing with

Some fake websites will pop up, especially during the holidays, to try to trick you. Don’t click links for special deals or gift cards that you spot when you’re on Facebook or other social media. 

Bad actors are doing their best to install malware on your computer too. 

Do not rush

As stressful as 2020 has been for many families, we can all sit back and ask ourselves many days: “What’s the rush?” 

So many things can be put off until tomorrow, next week or even next year. 

Scammers like to create a false sense of urgency and fear, though, trying to get you to do something quickly before you even have a second to think twice.

A fraudster might claim that your bank account will be frozen or your Amazon Prime Card will be canceled. 

A real company, like Amazon, isn’t going to get upset if you politely say: “I’m going to hang up now and call the phone number listed on the back of my credit card or debit card just to make sure that I’m talking to the real deal here.” 

Contact Susan Tompor via stompor@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @tompor. To subscribe, please go to freep.com/specialoffer. Read more on business and sign up for our business newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Amazon Prime Day 2020: Beware of these online shopping scams

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