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Amazon Prime scam spreading ahead of Black Friday – how to spot it

Black Friday may be a time for shopping, but it’s also a field day for scammers and con artists. Desperate shoppers make attractive targets, and scammers will try all kinds of new tricks to steal credit card numbers and data from victims.

Last month, the Better Business Bureau detected an unusual scam involving Amazon impersonators just ahead of Prime Day. Scammers would call victims with reports of delivery or billing issues. If the victim took the bait, they’d steal their credit card number or hijack their account. Tap or click here to see more on this scam and others targeting Amazon Prime users.

This scam didn’t stop after Prime Day, though. U.K. police have received several fraud reports matching the description above. And to make matters worse, these cybercriminals are borrowing tactics from classic “tech support” scams.

Get a call or email from Amazon? Think again

Police in Nottinghamshire, England are sounding the alarm about a scam call targeting Amazon Prime customers just ahead of Black Friday.

If you get the call, scammers will claim to be a tech support agent working for Amazon. They’ll say that there’s a problem with your account and the only way to fix it is to give them remote access to your computer.

If you fall for the trick and download the remote desktop software they ask you to, the crook will have you log into your Amazon and bank accounts so you can pay them for the service. But because they’re connected, they now have access to your passwords and login details.

Before you know it, your bank account could be drained and your Amazon account up for sale on the Dark Web.

Tap or click here to see how much your online accounts can sell for on Dark Web marketplaces.

Not just across the pond

Even though most of the victims appear to be U.K. residents, we have reason to believe the scam is here in the U.S. as well. The description matches an earlier version of the scheme reported by the Better Business Bureau.

Just like the U.K. variant, this scam centers around a cold call supposedly coming from Amazon. The main difference is what the scammers tell you about your account. Reports range from claims of a fraudulent charge to support for lost or stolen packages. Some mention an unfulfilled iPhone 10 order — despite the model being several years old.

Scammers may not even ask for remote access to your computer. In this variant, they demand your card number upfront for tech support. No thanks.

In another bizarre twist, the scammers are spoofing numbers belonging to other American companies — including the BBB!

Tap or click here to see the area codes most commonly spoofed by robocallers.

How can I protect myself and my Amazon account from this scam

When it comes to impersonation scams, Amazon has a few things to say on the matter. According to Amazon’s help pages, the company “will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information” over the phone to an Amazon caller. It adds that it will never ask you to make a payment outside of the website and will “never ask for remote access to your device.”

To stay safe in the future, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always be skeptical of unsolicited calls, emails or texts. Amazon does call customers, but it never asks for personal information. If a caller claiming to be with Amazon asks for personal or payment information, hang up the phone or delete the message immediately.
  • Beware of urgent-sounding language. Scammers try to get you to act quickly under pressure before you catch on. If a caller ever sounds urgent or overly pushy, hang up the call.
    Beware of payment requests via gift cards or payment apps. These payment methods are complicated to trace and almost always a sign of a scam.
    Report impersonator scams to Amazon. The company takes these complaints seriously and will take action if warranted.

If you weren’t careful and fell for the scam, you’re not out of luck just yet. First, take a moment to scan your computer to ensure the cybercriminal didn’t leave malware behind. Tap or click here to see our favorite free online virus scanners.

Next, contact your bank or financial institution to let them know you’re a victim of fraud. They’ll keep an eye on your account for any unusual activity. You can also set up two-factor authentication on your accounts to prevent unauthorized logins.

Tap or click here to see how to set up 2FA for your bank accounts.

Black Friday is still weeks away, so the schemes we’ll see are only just beginning. Scammers are out in droves every holiday season, but thanks to COVID-19 and quarantine, this year may be one of the worst yet.

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