(NEXSTAR) – While Black Friday scenes of people bursting through the doors of a big box retailer and wrestling over flatscreens have largely given way to online deals scored from the comfort of one’s home, holiday shopping with a tablet or smartphone comes with its own pitfalls this year.
Amazon warned shoppers in an email of a pair of scams that it says have been especially prevalent in the second half of 2023, according to self-reported customer data.
“This time of year brings an increased risk that consumers may be impacted by fraud,” said Scott Knapp, director of worldwide buyer risk prevention at Amazon.
The first and most common is the email attachment scam, in which a crook sends a realistic email that appears to come from Amazon itself. The email, which often contains malicious attachments, threatens that one’s account might be suspended or put on hold and prompts the shopper to enter personal information, such as payment details or login credentials.
The second most common tactic targets Amazon Prime members. Whether via phone call, text message or email, the scammer will claim there is a pricy membership fee or problem with the account that requires the member to confirm or cancel the charge. The ruse is once again an attempt to trick shoppers into revealing personal information, such as payment or bank account information.
“Scammers who attempt to impersonate Amazon put consumers at risk,” Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services, said on the company’s website. “Although these scams take place outside our store, we will continue to invest in protecting consumers and educating the public on how to avoid scams.”
Here an example of an Amazon impersonation scam recorded by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
Impersonation scams are one of the most popular types of scams out there and were second only to investment scams in 2022, according to the FTC.
In 2022, at least $660 million was lost to impersonator scams, up from $453 million the prior year. In comparison, investment scams netted $3.8 billion in 2022, more than double the amount in 2021.
How to keep your money, Prime membership safe
The FTC warns that if you ever get a suspicious call, don’t “press 1 to speak with someone” or call a number they give you, hang up instead. Remember, if you still have any concerns, you can contact that company directly using a phone number or website you are confident is legitimate.
Amazon offered the following tips for shoppers preparing for Black Friday:
- Go through Amazon’s own website or app to find customer service, tech support or make profile changes
- Don’t trust anyone trying to convince you that you “must act quickly”
- Double check the url – the real website contains “amazon.com” or “amazon.com/support.” Misspellings and bogus urls are a common tip off.
- While the email display name may look legit, check the full sender address to make sure there are no misspellings or substituted characters. Legit Amazon emails contain “amazon.com.”