Scams spread as online shopping increases
DES MOINES — There may be as many scams involving Amazon as there are products on Amazon.
Scammers see an opportunity as more people shop online, particularly during the pandemic. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is urging consumers to be vigilant if they receive unsolicited calls or emails referring to purchases, deliveries, gift cards, or other issues involving Amazon or other retailers.
Iowans with and without Amazon accounts have reported the unwanted calls and emails. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Do not respond to calls asking you to confirm purchases on Amazon or another retailer. Do not “press 1” or follow other instructions to connect to customer service. Hang up! The FTC has recordings of calls involving Amazon and Apple scams in this alert.
- Do not call the customer service number you are given in an unsolicited call or e-mail. If you do have questions about your account, go to the retailer’s website (be sure it is the legitimate website, not simply the first website you find on an internet search) and contact customer service.
- If you receive an unsolicited call, do not give out personal information, including bank account information. Do not give the caller access to your computer, as has happened in some scams reported to law enforcement and our office.
- Beware of e-mails from acquaintances asking if you have an Amazon account. Consumers have reported that their email accounts have been hacked and emails sent to their contact lists.
- Do not reply to messages asking you to pay in Amazon gift cards. Government agencies and legitimate charities will not ask you to pay in gift cards.
- Examine all e-mails carefully and beware of clicking on links or opening attachments.
- Be sure you are on a genuine e-commerce site. Fraudulent websites can appear on social media and other advertisements. These sites can fool consumers into entering personal data and credit card information.
- Even while shopping on Amazon or other sites, you may encounter third-party vendors, which fulfill and ship their own inventory. Some third-party sellers are notorious for selling fake products. To avoid a counterfeit Christmas, see our tips in our Consumer Focus newsletter.
How to file a complaint
If you believe you’ve been scammed, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. To file a complaint, go here or call 515-281-5926 (in Des Moines area) or 888-777-4590 (outside the metro area).
For more tips, follow the Iowa Attorney General on Facebook and Twitter at @AGIowa