The Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers to be extra cautious when shopping online this Black Friday.
This is prime time for scammers to impersonate major businesses like Amazon to steal your personal information.
“Some of the things we see are spoofed emails, unsolicited calls, people reaching out to consumers saying they are calling on behalf of Amazon and that there is a problem and that needs immediate attention. They need payment or they need your information,” Simone Liss, president and CEO of Mainland B.C.’s Better Business Bureau, told Consumer Affairs.
NS US Federal Trade Commission reports that between July 2020 and June 2021, one in three people reporting a business impersonator said the scammer pretended to be from Amazon. About 96,000 people reported being targeted and close to 6,000 said they lost money. Reported losses totaled more than $27 million. The average loss per person was $1,000.
Fraudsters trick unsuspecting victims by sending a message via text or link about suspicious activity or unauthorized purchases on their Amazon account.
When the victim calls the given number to solve the problem, the fraudster fools the victim into handing over personal information.
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“If your personal information passes into the hands of a criminal, that information could be used for identity theft,” Liss said.
“Consumers need to be aware that when they are receiving any unsolicited communication from companies, no matter what the company, you need to stop. Make sure who you are dealing with is legitimate, especially if they are asking for information. Or they are requesting immediate attention,” she said.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center says it is also concerned about impersonation scams as consumers shop online this Black Friday.
“Holidays pose a high risk for consumers to fall prey to this scam,” said Sue Lebin of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center. “It’s definitely on the rise, especially with the Amazon scam because it’s one of the most efficient ways to shop now,” Lebin says.
The BBB says these types of scams are becoming more sophisticated and are showing no signs of slowing down. “I believe scam artists are also a business and they are running their own business,” Liss said. “Scam artists use other organizations, including the Better Business Bureau name, to get people’s attention. It’s really important that we educate people to try to protect themselves.”
In a statement, Amazon told Consumer Affairs:
“Amazon works hard to please our customers and we take action when we see bad actors attempting to defraud customers by attempting to abuse our brand.”
Amazon says that in 2020, it invested more than $700 million globally and employed more than 10,000 people to protect its stores from fraud and abuse.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center advises consumers to hang up the phone if they receive an unsolicited call, avoid clicking on links sent via email, and not respond to text messages.
If you are the victim of fraud, it is recommended that you report it to Amazon, the Better Business Bureau, and the Anti-Fraud Center of Canada.