You can protect yourself by learning how to recognize these scams and keep your personal and financial information safe.
Has someone claiming to be an account executive from Amazon ever called asking for your Amazon account number, credit card information, or Social Security number? Maybe they’ve claimed it’s to prevent fraudulent purchases on your account or to verify that you ordered an expensive item? Hopefully you hung up quickly: That’s the sign of an Amazon call scam.
Amazon representatives will never ask for your personal information over the phone. But scammers will — and they’ll use that info to run up purchases on your Amazon account, access your online credit card portal, or sell your information on the Dark Web
Unfortunately, Amazon call scams are on the rise. According to a 2021 report from YouMail, Americans were receiving up to 150 million robocalls each month from scammers impersonating Amazon employees. YouMail reported that victims lost more than $27 million because of these scams in 2021.
Fortunately, you can protect yourself by learning how to recognize these scams and keep your personal and financial information safe.
What is an Amazon scam call?
In an Amazon call scam, a con artist will call a victim claiming to be a representative of Amazon. During this call, the scammer will find a reason to request the personal or financial information of the victim. Criminals will typically ask victims to provide their Amazon account numbers and log-in information, their credit card number, or their Social Security number.
Scammers might use the credit card numbers of victims to access their online accounts, running up illegal purchases. They might sell the Social Security numbers of their victims to the highest bidders on the Dark Web. Or maybe they’ll use the Amazon account numbers of these victims to make illegal purchases of electronics, clothing, or jewelry.
How do Amazon call scams work?
There are several versions of the Amazon call scam. But in all of them, a scammer’s goal is to steal your personal and financial information.
A con artist might call you and say that someone has used your Amazon account to order an expensive laptop or flat-screen TV. Because the purchase was so large, the representative says, Amazon needs to verify that you made the order.
When you tell the representative that you did not make the order, the scammer will ask for your Amazon account log-in information and credit card number. The scammer will explain that this information is necessary to cancel the order and protect your account from further fraudulent activities.
If you provide this information, the scammer can later access your Amazon account to run up illegal purchases in your name. The criminal might also use your credit card information to access your online credit card account, using it to make even more fraudulent purchases. To cause you even more financial pain, the scammer might sell this financial information on the dark web to the highest bidders.
Other scammers might use robocalls to call thousands of potential victims each day. These robocalls will state that someone has discovered suspicious activity on your Amazon account. If you answer, the robocall might ask you to press 1 on your phone’s keypad to speak to a representative. If you do, you’ll be taken directly to a scammer who will try to trick you into surrendering your personal information. If you don’t answer, the robocall might leave a message instructing you to call a certain number to protect your account.
Other times, callers might say that Amazon needs to update or verify your account. To do this, you’ll have to provide your credentials, such as your Amazon account log-in information and credit card numbers.
The “lost package” scam is common, too. A caller will say that your recent order has been lost in transit and that Amazon needs your account number or other personal information to track it down or replace it. This isn’t true. And, many times, the caller won’t be able to tell you what you ordered or provide any specifics about the lost item.
Be aware, too, that scammers are tech-savvy today. Many of them use spoofing technology to make it appear that the number on your cell phone’s screen is coming from Amazon. Even if the call appears to be coming from the online retailer, don’t let yourself get tricked into giving up personal or financial information.
Red flags to watch for
Amazon itself provides several warning signs of a call scam.
- It’s about an order you never placed. If the call is about an order you never placed, the representative on the other end of the phone is not from Amazon. Instead of providing any information, log onto your Amazon account and click on the “Returns & Orders” tab at the top of the page. This will bring up a list of any outstanding and recently delivered orders. If the caller isn’t asking about one of these, it’s a scam.
- The caller asks for your personal information. Amazon representatives will never ask for your personal or financial information during a phone call. If a caller asks for your credit card or Amazon account number, hang up. You’re talking to a scammer.
- The caller is vague about what you ordered. If the caller never states exactly what you ordered and just refers to “your purchase,” that’s another sign that a criminal is fishing for your personal or financial information.
- The caller is pressuring you to act quickly. Scammers like to create a sense of urgency. A caller might state that if you don’t immediately provide your account number someone might run up thousands of dollars of new purchases in your name. This is a trick designed to make you panic. When you panic, you’re more likely to surrender important personal information.
- The call is a recorded message. Amazon doesn’t send robocalls, which are recorded messages sent to multiple callers. If you receive a recorded message stating that Amazon has noticed fraudulent activity on your account and might have to freeze your access to it? Hang up. It’s a scam. And if one of these robocalls leaves a message on your voicemail? Erase it and never return the call.
What to do if you’ve fallen victim to an Amazon call scam
What if you accidentally provide your personal information to an Amazon scammer? Act quickly to limit the financial damage.
- First, check your credit card statements. Look for any suspicious purchases that you know you didn’t make. If you find any, call your credit card provider immediately. Your provider will freeze your account and issue you a new credit card. If you report the fraudulent purchases quickly, your credit card provider won’t charge you for them.
- Check your bank account statements, too, to make sure that scammers aren’t using your money to make fraudulent purchases. Again, if you see suspicious activity or withdrawals, call your bank immediately to freeze your account and prevent further damage.
- Order copies of your three credit reports – one each maintained by the national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can order one free copy of each of your reports every year.
- Once you receive your reports, check them for any new loans or credit card accounts that you know you haven’t opened. Scammers can use your personal and financial information to take out loans or open credit accounts in your name. Report any fraudulent loans or accounts to the credit bureaus. Also contact the financial institutions that have opened these accounts to inform them that they are fraudulent.
Report the fraudulent activity to Amazon
If you receive a scam call from someone claiming to be a representative from Amazon, whether you surrendered financial information or immediately hung up on the caller, report the suspicious activity to Amazon here.
When you visit this page, you’ll have several options. You can click on different links depending on how much, if any, information you provided to scammers.
You can also report fraudulent activity to the Federal Trade Commission here.
Don’t skip this step. Reporting these crimes can help the authorities track down and persecute the scammers behind them.
The bottom line
It’s not surprising that Amazon phone scams have become so common: Amazon is a retail giant. And the more people who shop on the site, the more opportunities there are for criminals to con them out of their financial information.
But if you remain vigilant and remember to never provide a caller with your personal information, you can protect yourself from these scams, no matter how common the fake phone calls become.