BBB Warning: Avoid these common Amazon Prime Day scams
Amazon Prime Day is almost here. June 21-22 marks another 48 hours of deals that flood traffic to Amazon’s website.
After a postponed Prime Day in 2020, retail analysts expect the shopping “halo effect” to bounce back to 2019 levels and drive traffic and sales for retailers outside of Amazon. All that internet traffic will also attract scammers looking to steal shoppers’ information. Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Western Virginia wants consumers to be savvy shoppers with these helpful tips and to avoid falling victim to these common Amazon scams.
Prime Day typically occurs in mid-July and has expanded from 24 hours to multiple days of deals just for Prime members. With sales exceeding $10 billion last year for Amazon, it’s an event that shoppers do not want to miss. As Amazon sales increased 45% from over $7 billion in July 2019, many other retailers have begun to participate in the online shopping extravaganza to promote their own deals at the same time as Prime Day to attract customers searching for deep discounts—including those who are not Prime members.
Major retailers with online deals during Amazon Prime Day
- Walmart announced “Deals For Days” from June 20 to June 23
- Target announced “Target Deal Days” from June 20 to June 22
- Kohl’s announced “Wow Deals” from June 21 to June 22.
- Newegg will hold “Fantastic Tech” sales from June 21 to June 23
“This surge in online holiday shopping events drive demand for discounts earlier in the season but also give opportunities for bad actors to take advantage of an unexpected shopper looking for a deal,” says Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia. “ Be wary of clicking on social media ads. You’re safer to go directly to the website and do research on unknown companies. Beware of unsolicited calls, emails, and texts from major retailers asking for personal and banking information. That’s a red flag it’s a scam.” says Wheeler.
How to spot a scam
- Be skeptical of email and unsolicited calls. Some departments at Amazon will call customers, but Amazon will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information or offer you a refund you do not expect. Amazon will never ask you to make a payment outside of its website and never ask you for remote access to your device.
- Ignore unsolicited messages that ask for personal information. Amazon will also never send you an unsolicited message that asks you to provide sensitive personal information, such as your tax ID, bank account number, or credit card information.
- Ignore calls for immediate action. Scammers try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it.
- Beware of requests to pay via wire transfer, CashApp, gift cards, or prepaid debit cards (such as MoneyPak, iTunes, or similar cards). These are almost always a sign of fraud.
- Report scams to Amazon. Any customer that receives a suspicious email or calls from a person impersonating an Amazon employee report it to Amazon customer service. Amazon investigates these complaints and will takes action if warranted.
Six common Amazon Prime Day scams
- Customer service phone calls
- Spoofed sites
- Malicious coupon code redirects
- Gift card scams
- Email phishing marketing campaigns
- Shipment tracking & delivery problem email and text scams
Tips for shopping Amazon Prime Day
- Create a list of items you need before shopping and set a budget. Avoid unnecessary spending and don’t get caught up in the hype with Amazon’s “Lightning Deals.” Vanishing sales offers of limited quantity products create the illusion of scarcity and can prompt consumers to click “buy” before analyzing whether you even need the product.
- Pay with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections—it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve if your information falls into the wrong hands. Use a virtual credit card number when possible.
- Use two-factor authentication and secure WIFI networks to ensure your information is encrypted and secure.
- Make sure your online check-out webpage is secure. Remember, the “S” in HTTPS stands for secure within the URL and should have a padlock icon next to the web address. The URL should also light up green if it is a secure webpage.
- Be conscious of “buy now, pay later” installment plans during check out. Know the interest rate, number of installments, and late fees or penalties of installment plans.
- Do your research. Don’t assume it’s the best price. Make a quick price comparison and see if other retailers offer a better price or a sitewide promo code that brings the price lower than Amazon’s.
- Use a promo code browser extension. Use a safe browser extension to research additional savings and best deals online — research the desired browser extension before downloading it.
- Check for fakes reviews. According to a recent study from Fakespot.com, which analyzes reviews for authenticity, one-third of Amazon reviews are fakes. Look for overly descriptive and repeating product reviews.
- Beware of Social Media “Too Good to be true” Bogus Product Ads: Scammers bombard younger consumers with free or heavily discounted fake products through social media ads with “just pay for shipping.” Typical items found on Facebook and Instagram fake ads are men’s watches, jewelry, and clothing.
- Buy from brands you know and trust. Be wary of unfamiliar brands. TVs are popular items on everyone’s list. Research picture quality and avoid buying low-end products.
- Check with BBB before you purchase. Give us a call before checking out or visit BBB.org to check the companies rating and customer reviews on products and services.
For more information
Learn more about phishing scams at BBB.org/PhishingScam. Learn more about how to identify whether a call or message is really from Amazon.
If you’ve been a victim of this scam, be sure to report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others to spot a scam before it’s too late.