Everybody loves a good shopping spree, but the pandemic has made it a bit tricky to go to a mall. To satisfy the purchasing bug, millions have turned to online shopping through sites like Amazon or Walmart.
If you needed any further proof of this, look at the numbers from this year’s Prime Day. The sales for the annual shopping day that rivals Black Friday topped $10 billion and surpassed last year’s sales figures.
But there is a downside to that: criminals know how popular shopping on Amazon is. They will use this to their advantage to send out fake and highly convincing emails. The emails are designed to trick you so that you hand over personal details or money.
Here is the backstory
If you have ever bought something from Amazon, you’ll know that it sends out an email after your purchase has been completed. You’ll also get an email when your product is ready for shipping or when it is about to be delivered.
If you made a purchase, receiving these messages won’t be out of the ordinary, but be careful. It might not be a legitimate email from Amazon but rather a criminal masquerading as a representative. Some of these emails are so convincing that they easily slip through spam filters.
Luckily criminals will make mistakes, and there are several tell-tale signs that the email that just popped up in your inbox is fake.
How to spot a fake Amazon mail
One of the obvious signs to look for are the sender’s email address. At first glance, it might look like it comes from Amazon itself, but subtle details will give up the game.
It might have Amazon in the name, but there could be slight misspellings or additional characters added on, like Amazon123. Don’t blindly trust the sender’s name that is displayed in the inbox.
Check the domain
In addition to checking the email address, also look at the domain from where it was sent. Forbes gives a good example that some fake emails are sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. It should be immediately obvious that Amazon won’t ever use the domain extension of .art.
In the U.S., Amazon email will always come from amazon.com, and any other domain is more than likely a forgery. Real emails can’t, in many circumstances, be replied to and will be sent from an address that expresses this. Criminals, on the other hand, want you to reply.
Scrutinize the language
Another clue that the email might be fake is if the product that’s supposedly being shipped is something you didn’t order, or it’s going to a random delivery address. The text, wording and phrases used are also indicators of potential fraud.
Many fake emails come from countries that don’t speak or write English fluently, so there will be small grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Genuine Amazon emails will have a near-perfect sentence structure, correct words, and language in a local tone.
Examine the spacing and layout
There could also be some weird formatting or spacing in the email in combination with the language used. It is unclear why, but most often, fake emails contain text that abruptly gets cut off, images in strange dimensions, or unnecessarily long (or too short) paragraphs.
What not to do and how to get real help
Criminals rely on you to panic and wanting to sort out the supposed issue as soon as possible. For the most part, they will want you to reply to the email, log in to your Amazon account or call a number for assistance.
Don’t ever do any of those things. That is how the criminals will try to steal your details. When clicking on a link in the mail (which you should never do), it takes you to the fraudulent login page, where the scammer can capture your details.
The same goes for calling a number. The scammers can ask you several personal questions to verify your identity, but it’s nothing more than a way to steal your information. The best thing to do is ignore the email, mark it as spam and delete it immediately.
Real help from Amazon
To be certain that you get through to a real Amazon contact, always go through the official channels listed on Amazon’s website. With that said, also check that you are on the proper website before buying anything.
- Click here for Amazon’s Customer Help portal.
- You can find the Returns & Refunds page here.
- Amazon’s Help bot can be accessed through this link.
- Or if you want Amazon to call you back, click here.