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Security & privacy

How to spot fake calls from Apple and Amazon support

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a scam? It’s easy to get suckered in by some of the scams out there — even if you try to keep an eye out for warning signs.

Scams crooks are using are getting more sophisticated, too. We’ve seen so many schemes emerge over the last few months that it’s tough to keep up. It’s also tiring to be on the defensive when working and playing on the internet. Tap or click here for a recent example of scam calls targeting seniors.

You need to continue to stay vigilant because a new scam is targeting unsuspecting victims as we speak. The Federal Trade Commission is warning everyone about this scam, which uses two reputable companies to gain your trust. Here’s what you need to know to stay protected.

The support call scam using fake Apple and Amazon employees

According to a new warning issued this week by the FTC, scammers are trying to rip people off by using the names of two companies everyone knows: Apple and Amazon. A couple versions of this scam are circulating, so you need to be aware of both.

In one, victims receive a recorded message that claims to be from Amazon. It warns you that there’s something wrong with your account — using common issues like suspicious or lost packages or an order that can’t be fulfilled.

The other version is a recorded message that says there’s been suspicious activity in your Apple iCloud account. In this scenario, victims are told that their account may have been breached, making the situation sound dire.

But while the two tactics differ, the goal is the same. To get the call recipient to press one or have them call back to speak with a fake customer service rep. If you press 1 or call the number, the supposed reps will try to get you to turn over your personal information, like your account password or credit card number.

These scams can be effective because they play on the emotion and immediacy of the issue. The scammers bank on victims wanting to resolve the shipping or iCloud issue quickly — and therefore aren’t on the defensive like they would be if they received an email or another form of communication.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen scams like these, either. These types of calls are actually a pretty common tactic. This isn’t the first time they’ve used fake Apple employees to target victims, either. We warned you about spoofed Apple calls that were going around a couple of months ago, too.

Tips for protecting yourself against these scams

You need to be smart about who you give your information to — if you speak to the fake customer service reps and provide any personal data, you could be at risk of some serious losses. You also need to take steps to protect yourself against these types of scams.

Related: Tap or click here to see five scams spreading online that could cost you thousands

Here are some suggestions:

Avoid answering these types of calls altogether. If you get an unexpected call or message about a problem with any of your accounts, hang up. Do not press one, do not call the supposed customer service reps back and whatever you do, do not give out any personal information.

If you’re worried that the call is valid and that there are issues with your accounts, go directly to your iCloud or Amazon account instead. Look up the official support phone numbers to speak with customer service agents directly associated with the companies, not a stranger who calls you about your accounts.

You can also take steps to block unwanted calls on your smartphone or your home phone. That’s an easy way to avoid receiving these types of calls altogether. Tap or click here for ways to stop robocalls and spam calls for good.

Treat any unsolicited calls you get with a hefty amount of skepticism. It’s better to be wary in these situations. And if you do get a call that you think is a scam, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You can also go to Apple’s support page to find out more about reporting these scam calls.

Chances are scams will continue to get more sophisticated — especially as technology advances. We’ll likely continue to see an uptick in scams soon, and they’re only going to get better at fooling victims, so stay aware and educated. It’s the best defense against becoming a victim.

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