The Christmas season is a particularly busy time for buying and selling on Amazon — unfortunately, this also means that fraudsters and scammers are booming. For users who don’t want to be ripped off, one golden rule applies, especially now: Know your enemy — or at least their methods.
We present typical scams and fraudulent scams on Amazon and explain how to effectively protect yourself from being ripped off on the retail platform. Nothing stands in the way of a carefree shopping spree on Amazon.
You have to reckon with these scams on Amazon
Scammers and fraudsters are often amazingly creative. It’s just a shame that they don’t use this ingenuity productively for the community — instead they want to make a quick buck at the expense of others. You can currently expect these scams on Amazon:
Hijacked accounts with fake items
This problem occurs on Amazon Marketplace. Hackers obtain the access data to an originally legitimate seller account and place new goods in the upper price segment on offer there — but often at real spot prices. For example, a particularly cheap laptop, cheap top gaming consoles, or inexpensive smart TVs.
Lured by the supposedly low prices, bargain hunters pounce and pay for the goods — which then never reach the buyer. By the time the scam is uncovered, the fraudsters are over the hill and laughing their heads off. What remains are bruised buyers and unsuspecting Marketplace sellers whose accounts have been hijacked.
Important for users: When browsing and shopping on Amazon Marketplace, always check a seller’s offers and, if possible, compare them with the official website of such retailers. You should be sceptical if the goods on offer obviously do not match and if Amazon items are offered at particularly low prices.
Important for users and Marketplace sellers: Use a good password manager (more on this below) and two-factor authentication.
In this scam, fraudsters pretend to be Amazon support staff in order to obtain account details or credit card numbers. The scammers approach unsuspecting users by phone, email, or text message. They often feign urgency, claiming that they need to act quickly to prevent personal damage. Either they ask that important data be disclosed directly over the phone (vishing: voice phishing), malware installed, or dubious websites visited. The latter is often phishing.
Phishing: When gangsters want to turn your data into money
Phishing is a fairly old, but unfortunately also a tried and tested maneuver used by gangsters and fraudsters to obtain sensitive personal data. Criminals often target credit card numbers, bank details, or account access. It is not uncommon for criminals to pretend to be official Amazon employees and try to persuade unsuspecting users to disclose critical data. They often use emails with deceptively real logos and text blocks.
To avoid being fooled, you should always remain critical of any communication and allow yourself a certain degree of mistrust. These features are typical of phishing:
You are asked to disclose confidential data.
Apparently genuine emails contain a request to follow strange links — for example to protect your own account. Do not click on such links. If you do, you will often be asked for confidential data on fake Amazon pages.
Poor German or incorrect grammar: Spam and phishing emails are often run through translation programs.
Scammers often try to persuade users to act rashly with an intrusive tone and great urgency.
Emails contain unsolicited attachments (never open such attachments).
Sender addresses or links that only appear to belong to Amazon. Always take a close look at such addresses and compare them with official Amazon URLs. Amazon will never ask you to disclose confidential data by email or on external sites. Such data includes, for example, your date of birth, credit card numbers, or numbers from your identity card or passport.
Rip-off with gift cards
Some scam routines have become established around Amazon gift cards. The popular cards are great as gifts and for customer loyalty — but they also make it easy for scammers to rip off unsuspecting users. This is because anyone who knows the redemption code on the back of the card or who follows the links to electronic gift cards can easily redeem the credit. Amazon describes on this support page what you should look out for when using gift cards, which scams are currently doing the rounds, and what you should do if you are affected.
To ensure that shopping on Amazon doesn’t lead to a rude awakening, users can follow a few simple rules that promise carefree shopping at the online retailer:
Don’t get involved with deals outside of Amazon: If a seller on Amazon Marketplace asks you to enter into a deal beyond Amazon and, for example, requests a separate bank transfer to your own account, then alarm bells should be ringing.
Stay away from: Unfamiliar links, requests to download files, and dubious email attachments.
Be sceptical about: Sudden contact via telephone and email. Amazon will not ask you to disclose sensitive data in these ways.
Ifin doubt, do not hesitate to contact support: If a seller, an inquiry, or a request seems suspicious to you, then you should take it seriously.
Never allow yourself to be put under pressure: Sure, this is always easier said than done. However, you should always show stoic patience when dealing with sellers on the Amazon Marketplace or with (supposed) support staff. Many scammers want to pull off their scams as quickly as possible before potential victims become aware or the scam is noticed. This is why they are often in a hurry and quickly become impatient if users are not quickly compliant. An unexpectedly high level of urgency in messages is also a warning sign.
If an offer sounds too good to be true, then unfortunately it often is.
Amazon support is friendly: Or at least it doesn’t put any pressure on you. If supposed Amazon employees are pushy or impatient, they may be fraudsters. If you suspect that someone is trying to rip you off, you can (and should) report this directly to Amazon. It only takes a few steps here. You can also forward suspicious communication such as emails directly to [email protected].
Claim your money back in an emergency: With Amazon, you can claim your money back via the A-to-Z guarantee if there have been problems with third-party sellers.
To protect yourself from cybercrime, Amazon also offers this advice:
Do not make payments to sellers who claim that Amazon or Amazon Pay will vouch for the transaction or refund money if one is not satisfied with the purchase.
Do not make payments to enter lotteries or competitions where large sums of money are promised.
Do not make payments where credit cards or loans are “guaranteed.”
Do not respond to offers that you are not sure are legitimate.
Do not send payments to people whose identity you do not know or who you cannot verify.
We would also like to recommend this to you: Use a good password manager!
If you look at the most popular passwords in the United States, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry: “123456,” “password,” and “123456789” a few top examples. Hackers and fraudsters can crack such laxly protected accounts faster than a walnut — you really shouldn’t make it that easy for the crooks.
Simple rules apply for strong and secure passwords: They should consist of long (preferably 12+ letters or more) and preferably cryptic character strings. Users should also never use the same password for different services or portals.
Because lines of code with such characteristics are difficult to memorize, we recommend that our readers use a modern password manager. Such tools, which are often free of charge, can be used across devices and platforms, are easy to use, and offer a significant increase in security. With autofill and automatic password generation, the tools also relieve us of any effort. Here you can find the best password managers.
This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.