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Security & privacy

Scammers are out on Amazon Prime Day – 10 ways to protect yourself

Are you ready for Prime Day? One of the year’s biggest shopping events is just around the corner, which means you’ll have to beat the crowds if you want to snag the best deals.

Want a head start on all the best Prime Day sales? Tap or click here to see our favorite early deals.

With so many people shopping all at once during Prime Day, hackers and cybercriminals will see a major opportunity to do damage. Between fake checkout pages, phishing sites and scam emails, there are plenty of ways a hacker can ruin your Prime Day fun. Here are the top threats to watch for.

Cyberattacks, phishing campaigns and more threaten Prime Day shoppers

In the lead up to Prime Day, security researchers at Check Point detected a 21% spike in malicious web domains that imitate Amazon. These websites include keywords like Amazon and Prime in their names to trick shoppers into sharing personal data. If you can’t tell the difference, you could end up losing money or worse.

That’s why it’s critical to tread cautiously when shopping online. Cyberattacks don’t just target governments or companies anymore. They’re an ever-present danger that can threaten anyone if you’re not careful.

If you want to shop safely on Prime Day, these security tips can help you protect yourself, your data and your money from cybercriminals.

1. Check the address

One of the biggest concerns involves a sudden spike in malicious domains that look similar to Amazon. These can look like misspellings of Amazon itself or domains that actually say Amazon but end in something other than .com.

If you misspell Amazon and end up on one of these phishing pages, you could end up accidentally sharing your credit card info when you try to check out. Scammers are getting better at making fake websites all the time, which means it’s critical to pay close attention when shopping.

How to stay safe: If you’re typing in Amazon’s URL, make sure you spell it correctly and end it in .com. Alternatively, visit Amazon through a bookmark if you can.

2. Make sure you’re encrypted

Look at the URL bar of your browser and you’ll see a small lock-shaped icon next to Komando.com. That symbol means the website you’re visiting is encrypted, and the passwords or card numbers you type are protected from hackers.

If you aren’t sure if you’re on a real Amazon page, look for the lock icon. A missing lock is a big red flag that you’re on a phishing site that can steal your card information.

How to stay safe: Check for the lock icon when you visit a URL. You can also check to make sure the web address starts with HTTPS://. If you see HTTP://, that means the site isn’t encrypted.

3. Never share more than you need to

If you’re checking out on Amazon and get asked for information like your birthday or Social Security number, close the window right away. A website that asks for personal data may be trying to steal your identity, and Amazon doesn’t have any reason to ask for this it.

How to stay safe: Remember that Amazon won’t ask for your Social Security number on checkout. In fact, the only time it wants to know your birthday is when you create your account. Never give online stores more information than you need to.

4. Create a stronger password for Prime Day

Even if you don’t end up on a phishing site, hackers may still try to crack your account using data pilfered from data breaches. If you share your Amazon password with another account that’s been hijacked, you can be sure that hackers will try the same login.

Tap or click here to see how to check if any of your accounts were leaked in data breaches.

How to stay safe: Tap or click here to change your Amazon password to something stronger. You’ll want to use alternating letters and numbers that are too complex for a hacker to guess. Tap or click here for our guide to making stronger passwords.

You can also set up two-factor authentication for your Amazon account to have another layer of protection. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Visit Amazon’s Advanced Security Settings page.
  2. Tap or click Get Started to set-up Two-Step Verification (what Amazon calls 2FA).
  3. Add your primary phone number and click Send code.
  4. Type in the code that was sent to your phone number and click Verify code and continue.
  5. Add a back-up phone number. You will need to do this to complete the setup. This step lets you unlock your account if you happen to lose your phone.

5. Don’t use public Wi-Fi!

We’ve said this multiple times on Komando.com, but it bears repeating here: Public Wi-Fi is dangerous to use. Public networks can be easily hacked and compromised, which means your transactions and passwords may be visible to others online with you.

How to stay safe: Avoid public Wi-Fi networks. If a public network is your only option, use a secure VPN to protect yourself.

Tap or click here to find out more about Kim’s favorite VPN.

6. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Scammers still exist on Amazon itself, and by the time the website bans them, they might have already made off with your money. If you see deals that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Use your best judgment, and be skeptical of deals that look excessive (think 80% off a new iPad).

How to stay safe: Watch for real deals by opening the Amazon app on your smartphone, tapping the three-line menu icon and tapping Programs & Features. Choose Today’s Deals from this menu and take a look at the actual savings Amazon is serving up.

7. Stick to using your credit card

Debit cards are tied to our bank accounts, and having your card stolen can cause your savings to be drained in an instant. Credit cards offer much more protection — and many have limits that will stop hackers from getting too far.

How to stay safe: If you can help it, use a secure payment service like PayPal for your Prime Day transactions. It works perfectly with Amazon. Tap or click here to see why it’s one of the safest ways to pay online.

8. Watch out for fake texts

Over the course of Prime Day, you may get a text message on your phone that says there’s been an error processing one of your orders. If you tap on the link and enter your credit card information, the scammer who sent you the text will steal it. It’s just another phishing scam!

How to stay safe: Never click links sent to you from an unknown source. You should also ignore texts related to Amazon and Prime Day while the event is going on. If there’s an actual payment issue with your order, Amazon will email you.

9. Ignore fake delivery emails and phone calls

Speaking of emails, another common scam involves a fake shipping notification that arrives by email. These messages will usually claim that your order can’t be delivered and that you need to confirm your identity to get your package.

A similar type of scam is also coming by phone. According to a report from the Better Business Bureau, a pre-recorded call is circulating that claims there’s a problem with your Amazon account. Some versions mention a failed delivery while others talk about a fraudulent charge.

If you follow along and reach the end of the recording, you’ll be asked for personal information like your credit card number or Amazon login. To make things even more confusing, the scammers are spoofing phone numbers to make it look like the calls are coming from somewhere else — including the Better Business Bureau’s number.

How to stay safe: You won’t get phone calls or emails from shipping services if there’s a delivery issue. If you happen to get one of these and want peace of mind, ignore the message and give Amazon a call. The company is in close contact with its carriers and may have an answer for you.

If you get a call from the Better Business Bureau, you can ignore it. The BBB doesn’t reach out to Amazon customers for account issues.

10. Don’t go looking for help on Google

If you’re stuck figuring out how to use Amazon on Prime Day, don’t look up help on Google. Tech support scams are a classic way to trick people into handing over money, and some of these scammers even pay Google to boost their ads to the top of search results.

How to stay safe: Visit Amazon’s support page for assistance, or check out our detailed guide to getting the most out of your Prime Day experience. Tap or click here to see how to get the best Prime Day deals.

If you stay cautious and skeptical while shopping, you should have no problems with hackers and cybercriminals. That said, you’ll still want to keep an eye out for fake reviews. These can trick you into buying something you don’t want — and it won’t count as fraud to Amazon.

Tap or click here to see how to spot fake reviews on Amazon.

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