Stay calm and think when con artists call
Want some advice about scams? Stay calm. Con artists use that feeling of alarm to trick victims into acting before they can think.
BBB Scam Tracker is seeing reports of a con that claims your Amazon, PayPal or other account has been compromised. Scammers hope you’ll panic and fall for their scheme.
How the scam works
You receive an email, call or text message informing you there’s been suspicious activity in your bank or another account, such as Amazon, Netflix or PayPal. You are told you need to “take immediate action” to prevent your account from being compromised or to avoid being charged for a fraudulent purchase. Don’t fall for it!
The email version of this con uses the company’s logo, colors and language to make the message look just like an official alert. A link in the message leads to a website that asks for your account number, login and password information, or even your Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid insurance number.
If you share this information, you could well become the victim of identity theft and fraud.
In the phone version of this scam, the caller claims to have noticed an expensive charge recently posted on your account, which “you didn’t make.”
Some victims told BBB Scam Tracker that the caller pushed them to download phony “security software” to their phone or computer. This was actually malware, which gave scammers access to sensitive information stored on their devices.
In other versions, the caller insists you need to buy prepaid gift or debit cards in order to reverse the fraudulent charges and secure your account.
One victim told BBB Scam Tracker that they received a call from the “Amazon verification department.” After noticing fraudulent purchases, Amazon allegedly put a hold on their account. In order to lift the hold, the scam caller convinced the victim “to buy $200 of Google Play cards. This was needed to use the codes to cancel the orders. [The scammer] said I needed to do it right away; the account could only be on hold for a short time.”
How to avoid scams like this
Be very cautious with unsolicited calls, emails and texts. Don’t be quick to believe claims from unsolicited communications. This is a common tool of scammers.
Understand how businesses handle communications. If you know how disputes and suspicious activity are handled, it will be easier to spot a scam. For example, PayPal clearly states that they will never send you an email asking you for sensitive information like your password, or ask you to download attachments or software.
Look into the claims. Don’t take action without first verifying the claims. Without clicking on any links, log into your account or look up the company’s official phone number (check your bill or welcome email) and call them to confirm if there really is a case of suspicious activity associated with your account before you decide what to do.
Don’t panic and don’t feel intimidated. Scammers want you to panic. They use intimidation tactics to pressure you into giving up your personal information or making payments. Legitimate businesses will not intimidate you in this way. Stay calm and think things through before you act.
Never give your personal information to strangers. If you aren’t speaking or corresponding with someone you know and trust, don’t give them sensitive information.
For more information
On BBB.org, read more about scams impersonating Amazon and how to protect yourself from phishing cons.
If you’ve been the victim of this or a similar scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help educate other consumers by raising awareness of scammers’ tactics.
BBB serving Central Virginia was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices, and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business.
Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in-advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.