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Amazon Prime Day attracting shoppers and scammers, how to protect yourself when shopping online

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Posted at 6:11 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2021-03-17 17:34:12-04

BALTIMORE — Holiday shopping has come early. Amazon’s Prime Day starts at midnight and goes through Wednesday.

It’s the online giant’s largest sales event of the year, and it’s also a prime opportunity for scammers.

Researchers at Check Point found that website domain registrations with the words “Amazon” or “Prime” doubled in the last 30 days with many of them being identified as malicious.

These fake websites are just one of many ways scammers are trying to steal from consumers.

Angie Barnett with the Better Business Bureau serving greater Maryland is warning shoppers not to act too quickly when trying to score deals. The consumer watchdog has already received a number of scam reports.

“Phony sellers. These are scammers who set up fake accounts, put up items on the website that you will never receive because you’ve actually turned over your credit card information to a scammer,” said Barnett.

The BBB is recommending shoppers buy from well-known sellers, and to be leery of third-party sellers. You can find out more information by clicking on the seller’s business profile and seeing where the product ships from.

And if you’re on Amazon, make sure you stay on the platform.

“If a scammer tries to take you away from the Amazon platform and divert you over to another website, another checkout, some other system that is your biggest warning sign,” Barnett said.

Amazon has an A-to-Z Guarantee where if you don’t get an item you purchased, or there’s an issue, you can more easily get a refund.
Even after placing an order, shoppers may receive an unsolicited email, text, or call with instructions to click on a suspicious link.

“Your shipping information, click here for tracking information, click here your item has been delayed, click here for an update on your order. When you click on those unsolicited emails or text messages, you may be releasing malware into your computer or cellphone,” said Barnett.

Legitimate sellers also have their tricks, and are known to inflate prices several months ahead of the event to make it look like the customer is getting a steal.

“So you get lured in with the 30 percent off without ever looking at the original price. CamelCamelCamel gives you that pricing history,” said Barnett.

The website offers pricing history for any Amazon URL. If there’s no pricing history, that is a sign it's a new seller and should be vetted more.

And remember to use a credit card with online purchases for better fraud protection.

See below for the BBB’s full list of tips for shoppers on Amazon Prime Day:

  • Be skeptical of email and unsolicited calls. Some departments at Amazon will call customers, but Amazon will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information or offer you a refund you do not expect. Amazon will never ask you to make a payment outside of their website and will never ask you for remote access to your device.
  • Ignore unsolicited messages that ask for personal information. Amazon will also never send you an unsolicited message that asks you to provide sensitive personal information, such as your tax ID, bank account number or credit card information.
  • Ignore calls for immediate action. Scammers try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don't fall for it.
  • Beware of requests to pay via wire transfer, prepaid debit card or CashApp (such as MoneyPak, iTunes or similar cards). These are almost always a sign of fraud.
  • Report it to Amazon. Any customer that receives a questionable email or call from a person impersonating an Amazon employee report them to Amazon customer service. Amazon investigates these complaints and will takes action, if warranted.