The 7 scams that put you at risk on Amazon's Prime Days: Internet Scambusters #965
Amazon's price-slashing Prime Day promotion, which is just around the corner, has become its biggest sales event of the year.
Other big online retailers have followed suit. And so have the scammers, lining up a horror show of fake websites, phony messages, and other fraudulent activities.
But worry not. If you plan to join the frenzy later this month, we'll tell you about the biggest scam risks so you can easily spot and avoid them.
Let's get started…
Scam Shields Up for Amazon Prime Day!
Amazon Prime Day -- days (plural), actually -- happens later this month and scammers have lined up a host of hacks, con tricks, and frauds to catch out unwary shoppers.
The event is being held on June 21 and 22 this year -- much earlier than last year -- but you can be sure that the crooks are well-prepared.
And no wonder. Experts not only say Prime Day nets more sales for Amazon than so-called Black Friday, but the shopping frenzy also draws in other big retailers like Walmart and Target.
There are rich pickings for the tricksters. They know that shoppers tend to drop their guard in the frenzy, sometimes referred to as FOMO -- fear of missing out!
If you plan to pitch in, here are the main Amazon Prime Day scams to be on the alert for:
1. Phishing. Just ahead of the big day, you get a message that appears to come from Amazon, or one of the other big online stores, saying there's a problem with your account and that you can't buy until it's fixed.
In a rush, you click the link, which takes you to a fake page that harvests your sign-on details and may even ask you to input your credit card details. The crooks then proceed to use the ID information to buy stuff that they usually have shipped to an empty home for later collection.
Another phishing trick is to send a phony shipping notice for something you didn't order with a fake customer service link or phone number where, again, you'll be asked for sign-on details.
A similar scam involves a phone call supposedly from Amazon's fraud department checking on a suspicious order and requesting details of the credit card linked to your account.
In all cases, if you receive messages like these, sign on to your account at Amazon.com and check things from there.
Neal Dennis, threat intelligence specialist at Cyware told InfoSecurity magazine: "The heightened activity around Prime Day and the desire of consumers to not miss out on the deals make it ripe for scams and deception.
"Some simple tips for spotting phishing emails include checking the address of the sender, noticing any bad grammar or misspellings and using common sense when considering what the email is asking you for."
More Prime Day Scams
2. Fake Prime membership. Prime Day is only open to Amazon Prime members and the company uses the sale as a way to drive up membership.
Scammers simply send out fake membership invitations, sometimes offering a discount. People who respond end up not only revealing personal information for identity theft but may also lose money by paying for this non-existent membership deal.
If you're not already a member and are interested in signing up, go to: https://www.amazon.com/amazonprime
In fact, you can get a 30-day trial membership for free there, and then opt out if you just want to shop on Prime Day. Scammers may offer you cut price membership and simply sign you up for this deal.
3. Fake coupons. Security experts have already seen phony promotions on social media offering a $100 coupon. We'll likely see a lot more in the next couple of weeks.
These are gateways to all manner of scams, from identity theft to data harvesting, or simply as a route to hijack your social media account and friends list.
Amazon simply doesn't publish this type of promo on social media, so if you see a coupon offer it's likely a fake.
4. Fake Amazon websites. Last year, crooks set up scores of Amazon lookalike sites offering great Prime Day deals -- non-existent of course. They'll almost certainly be at it again.
They rely on people either miskeying the Amazon.com address or falling for a phony ad that has "amazon" somewhere in the address. The aim is either to steal your money or identity information.
5. Unusual payment methods. Scammers, pretending to be Amazon in one guise or another, ask you to pay for your purchases outside of the company's website and payment system -- via PayPal for example.
Amazon never does this. It's always a scam.
6. Phony reviews. There's been a huge outcry recently about the volume of phony product reviews on Amazon, especially for Marketplace items.
We'll be revisiting this topic in more detail later this year but for now beware of items which have all five-star or single line reviews.
7. Hacking. During the frantic Prime Days, crooks will use every trick in the book to try to hack their way into your PC. Most of the methods we've listed can be used to upload malware onto a PC for the purposes of stealing information or enrolling your computer into a robot network (botnet) used for spamming.
In some cases, they may even ask for access to a user's PC to check some element of their Amazon activity.
Finally, although it's not a scam, remember that not everything is reduced on Prime Day. Some items may even cost more. So, don't assume that because you're buying during the sale period that you're getting a bargain.
Even an online store's reduced prices may not be the best available. Always compare with prices elsewhere.
Help From Amazon
The online retailer has a useful anti-scam guide you can use any time. Some of the key points they make are that:
- If you're notified about an order you didn't place, it's almost certainly a scam.
- It's rare for Amazon to phone you, but if they do, they won't ask for confidential information. If the caller does ask for this, it's fake.
- Likewise, requests for you to update payment information that isn't associated with a specific order you placed is phony.
For more on this from Amazon itself, check out this article: Identifying Whether an Email, Phone Call, Text Message, or Webpage is from Amazon.
Also check out this report compiled by specialist site Tech Republic to deal with scams during last year's Prime Day, which was held in October -- Buyers Beware: Hackers Poised to Make Amazon Prime Day Into a Prime Phishing Day.
Alert of the Week
Did you lose money to fraudsters by using the wiring service MoneyGram? If so, you could be in line to get some or all of it back.
Electronic payments are one of the scammers favored methods of stealing cash because final destinations are untraceable.
Some time ago, MoneyGram agreed with the US Department of Justice to clamp down on the fraudsters but, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it hasn't lived up to its pledge.
If you were a scam victim who paid via MoneyGram between 2013 and 2017 and haven't already heard from the Commission, you can now file a compensation claim.
You must claim before August 31 this year. Start at the MoneyGram Remission Website.
That's all for today -- we'll see you next week.