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How to Identify and Protect Yourself Against the Latest Amazon Scams

Learn to spot — and stop — the Amazon imposters who use calls, emails and texts to steal from consumers

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There’s no denying how massive Amazon has become in American life, for better or worse; it’s the go-to “everything store” for tens of millions of people, a behemoth that raked in some $514 billion last year. That’s why its name is so commonly used by criminals in scams of all stripes.

The company was the most frequently impersonated organization in 2022, according to the Better Business Bureau, which collects scam reports through its BBB Scam Tracker.

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“Amazon’s a great target because they’re almost universal,” says Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail Inc., an Irvine, California-based firm that tracks scam calls and offers robocall-blocking apps. “Very few people don’t do some ordering from Amazon. For them to get a call from Amazon or a fraud alert doesn’t seem that unusual. People just think, ‘Oh, this is Amazon trying to help me out.’ ”  

He notes that these days imposters are less likely to use phone calls for such scams, as they are “now moving aggressively to text messaging.” 

The most common Amazon scams

“Suspicious Activity Scams” are now the most common kind of Amazon impersonation scam the company is seeing, accounting for more than one-quarter of all reports, according to Scott Knapp, Amazon’s Director of Worldwide Buyer Risk Protection. 

How to report fraud and find support

If you’re reached by phone, the scam tends to start with someone saying there has been suspicious activity on your account, and then asks you to press 1 or call another phone number. Next, the criminal may ask for your Amazon account information. Or they may ask to help you by taking over control of your computer via software that lets them gain access to your credit card, banking and other sensitive information — so they can steal your identity and your money.

(The Federal Trade Commission [FTC] offers an example of a typical Amazon impersonation robocall here.)

Knapp cites two other Amazon-impersonation scams that appear to be growing more common:

Email attachment scams. Amazon says it’s seeing twice as many reports of scam emails with attachments in the second half of 2023 than the first. This is where scammers send emails posing as Amazon and include attachments stating that your account will be suspended or put on hold unless you click on a fraudulent link to “update your account.” These links will lead to a request for personal or payment information.  

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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.

Amazon Prime Membership scams. Amazon has seen a recent surge in reports of unexpected calls, texts and emails that refer to a costly membership fee or an issue with your membership, then ask you to confirm or cancel the charge. Knapp says that the scammers will try to get you to provide payment or bank account information. 

But there are countless other ways criminals use Amazon’s name to scam consumers, including (to name just a few):

Website verification scams. YouMail, for example, is now warning about a recent surge in calls notifying business owners or individuals that their websites aren’t verified by search engines such as the Amazon Alexa Network. The company offers this example: 

“Hi this is my business verified. We are calling because your company is not registered and verified on Google and Amazon Alexa Network. If your business is not registered, customers will not be able to find you. If you are the business owner, press 1 to verify your Google and Amazon Alexa listing. Press 1 to verify your listing and join the fastest-growing Fortune Network. Press 2 or dial 844.”

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Scammers’ goal, according to YouMail, is to steal sensitive information such as financial credentials.

Fake Amazon customer service phone numbers. It’s easy for criminals to spoof a trusted retailer, using familiar logos and slogans and a URL that’s easily mistaken for the real thing. That’s why some Amazon customers searching for the company’s customer service number online have ended up calling a scammer instead. One such victim Marcia Smith, who lives near San Diego, needed help while trying to order a cheesecake on Amazon for her son’s birthday. She called a number for Amazon she found online, and the fake customer service rep told her that her account had been compromised. Smith ended up losing thousands of dollars as the criminals tried to “help” her protect her money — a nightmarish experience she recounts in this recent episode of AARP’s The Perfect Scam

Delivery scams. As the government continues its crackdown on robocalls, spam texts — including from Amazon imposters — have increasingly flooded Americans’ phones. Extremely common are fake delivery-related text messages, often from FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service but sometimes from Amazon, about an impending package or a shipment snafu. You may be sent to a website, where you’re asked to verify your address and perhaps pay a small “redelivery fee.” 

What Amazon is doing to fight scams

Amazon, for its part, is well aware that scammers are using the company name to defraud people, and working to stop it, says Knapp, with “a team — including machine-learning scientists and expert investigators — who protect our store and consumers from fraud and other forms of abuse.”

In the past year, he adds, the company has “initiated takedowns of more than 45,000 phishing websites and 15,000 phone numbers being used as part of impersonation schemes.” 

Amazon recently sued scammers who pretended to be affiliated with Amazon Publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing, promising to publish authors’ work for a fee, then provided substandard or no service. The company also has filed four lawsuits against organizations who’ve been impersonating Amazon customer support workers.

Knapp urges consumers to report scams to Amazon at reportascam@amazon.com. ​​

How to avoid Amazon imposter scams

  • Do not respond to any incoming robocalls, texts or emails claiming to be from Amazon or another trusted brand. And don’t follow instructions to press 1 or call another number.
  • Be suspicious of robocalls or other communications with bad grammar or stilted language (although AI is making it easier for imposters to appear legitimate).
  • If you have concerns about your Amazon account, hang up on the robocall or ignore the message and log in to your Amazon and relevant credit card account to check for suspicious charges.
  • Consider using a call blocker.  
  • Don’t assume a text or call is legitimate because it comes from a familiar phone number or area code. Spammers use caller ID spoofing to make it appear the text is from a trusted or local source.
  • Never click on links in suspicious texts or emails. They could install malware on your device or take you to a site that does the same.
Watch Out for These 3 Amazon Impostor Scams

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spinner image cartoon of a woman holding a megaphone

Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.