How To Identify Amazon Email Scams (Before You Lose Money)

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Jory MacKay

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    Can You Spot Amazon Email Scams?

    When William Bortz received an email that seemed to be from Amazon — informing him of a $1,500 purchase made on his account — he quickly called the listed phone number to sort out the issue.

    Unfortunately, William walked right into a call with a con artist. The phony customer support representative on the other end of the line eventually convinced William to make several wire transfers to get his money back. In the end, William and his wife lost almost $700,000 [*]. 

    Amazon is now the #1 impersonated brand by scammers — with Amazon email scams quickly becoming a top tactic for fraudsters. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [*]: 

    Americans lost over $27 million to Amazon phishing scams in the past year and a half.

    If you received an email claiming to be from Amazon, you need to be careful. 

    In this guide, we’ll explain how Amazon scam emails work, the latest scams to watch out for (and their warning signs), and what to do if you open, click on, or respond to a phishing email.

    How Do Amazon Email Scams Work? 

    Amazon email scams occur when con artists pose as representatives of the online retail giant and send phishing emails to Amazon customers. The goal of these bogus emails is to trick people into exposing personally identifiable information (PII) or sending money to fraudulent accounts.

    Most Amazon email scams follow a similar blueprint to the smishing scams run through SMS text messages

    Here’s how they work:

    • You receive an unsolicited email that seems to be from Amazon. The email looks bonafide, complete with Amazon’s branding, logo, and typeface. 
    • The message in the email notifies you of an issue with your account — for example, a billing question, a suspended account, or a problem with a recent order.
    • You are encouraged with urgency to resolve the issue right away. Conveniently, the email includes a link or phone number.
    • If you call the number, an impersonator attempts to get you to disclose financial information or your account login credentials.
    • If you click on the link, it directs you to a fraudulent website, where scammers capture any information that you share. Clicking on links could also initiate a malware download on your computer.

    As Amazon scam emails become more sophisticated, it’s easier for hackers to disguise malicious links. Once installed on your computer, ransomware or spyware can quickly scan your device and steal your personal information.

    In the worst-case scenario, thieves could steal your Social Security number (SSN) or credit card information and sell your data to others on the Dark Web

    The safest way to avoid falling victim to these scams is to never click on links or reply to suspicious emails. If in doubt, log in to your Amazon account directly to verify the information. 

    Take action: If scammers have your personal information, this means that your Amazon, online banking, and other accounts could be at risk. Try Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection free for 14 days to safeguard your accounts and sensitive information from scammers.

    How Can You Tell If an Amazon Email Is Real? 5 Warning Signs  

    Thousands of scammers impersonate Amazon, making it difficult to always know what to look for in an Amazon scam email. As TrustedSec director, Alex Hamerstone, explains [*]:

    “An Amazon email scam can look exactly like a real Amazon email or can be poorly crafted, and everything in between.” 

    However, there are still a few red flags you should always be on the lookout for. 

    Here are five telltale signs of an Amazon scam email:

    • The sender’s address is not an official Amazon.com email address. In Amazon scam emails (like the one below), you can see how scammers have changed the “from” name to make it look like it’s from Amazon (“no-reply@amazon.com”). But you can reveal the actual email address by clicking on the sender’s name.
    • Lack of personal information. Any email with a generic greeting like “Dear customer” or “Greetings from Amazon” is a red flag. If you have an Amazon account, legitimate communications will include your name.

    Amazon scam emails often claim your account will be locked until you “verify” your identity. Source: Reddit

    • Subtle spelling and grammatical errors. Almost 50% of all email spam comes from Russia, Germany, and China [*]. With non-native English speakers at the helm, many Amazon email scams include strange syntax or wording that doesn’t sound like typical email communications from Amazon. 
    • Low-resolution logos and images. Another red flag is when an email simply doesn’t have the professional appearance you’d expect. Watch out for grainy images and logos, or strange formatting.
    • A sense of urgency. Fraudsters want people to panic and quickly click on links or share information before realizing it's a scam. Amazon would never pressure you into taking action immediately by threatening to cancel your order or suspend your account.

    💡 Related: How To Tell If An Email Is From a Scammer [With Examples]

    The 7 Latest Amazon Email Scams

    1. Your Amazon account has been locked or suspended
    2. An iPhone, MacBook, or other expensive item that you didn’t order is on its way
    3. You need to update your payment information before a recent order can ship
    4. Fake Amazon gift card survey emails
    5. Fraudulent Amazon Prime subscription renewal emails
    6. Amazon invoice and return policy scams
    7. You’re owed a refund from Amazon

    Scammers are always changing their tactics to try and lure you into giving up personal information or money. Here’s how you can recognize the latest Amazon scam emails and avoid becoming a victim:

    1. Your Amazon account has been locked or suspended

    In this scam email, phony customer support representatives notify customers that their accounts have been suspended. The message cites a problem with billing information and includes a link to help fix the problem. 

    When you click on the link, a phony website opens. If you enter any “new information” for your account, you’ll actually send your personal data to the scammer. 

    Example of an Amazon phishing email
    Fraudsters include links in their scam emails that take you to phishing websites. Source: Bleeping Computer

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • A sense of urgency. Scam emails give you a time limit (usually 24 hours) to take action to resolve the issue. Don’t click on the link — it’s most likely malicious. Instead, log in to your Amazon account by using the mobile app or going directly to Amazon.com. 
    • No signs of an issue in your Amazon account. If there’s an issue with your account, you’ll be alerted as soon as you log in. If you see nothing, the email you received is a scam. 
    • Spoofed email addresses and website URLs. The sender's email address and the website to which they try to direct you are both fakes. You can spot that the URLs aren’t really from Amazon. Hover above the link before clicking to check it — any genuine U.S.-based page will end with “Amazon.com.”
    Take action:  If you’ve clicked on a link in a scam email, your bank account and identity could be at risk. Try Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection free for 14 days to secure yourself against fraudsters.

    2. An iPhone, MacBook, or other expensive item that you didn’t order is on its way

    Amazon scammers create a sense of urgency by sending you fake invoices for expensive items from companies like Apple. For example, you could receive an email confirmation about an iPhone or new MacBook that was bought using your Amazon account. 

    But if you call the number listed in the email to “fix” or “cancel” the order, you’ll get pulled into what’s known as a refund scam.

    In one example, a woman named Vicki Tripp made the mistake of calling after she received an email about an iPhone purchase on her Amazon account. The scammer soon gained remote access to Vicki's computer and stole the California senior's life savings of $84,000 [*]. 

    Example of a fake purchase invoice from an Amazon scammer
    Scammers use fake purchase receipts to create a sense of urgency. Source: Reddit

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • A phone number and request to call. This classic phishing tactic is a giveaway. Despite supposedly being from a massive international enterprise, the contact number is for a local line. 
    • Lack of personalization. A greeting like “Hello, customer” is a sure sign of scammers testing their luck. Remember that any genuine order would include your name, which is contained in your personal Amazon account details. 
    • Request to make wire transfers. If you end up on a phone call, the scammer will claim they refunded you too much, and you must send money back via wire transfer. Never send money at the behest of someone claiming to be from Amazon.

    💡 Related: The 7 Latest Amazon Scam Calls (and How To Spot Them)

    3. You need to update your payment information before a recent order can ship

    Scammers know you don’t want your Amazon orders to be delayed. In this scam email, they claim that your account information or payment details need to be updated before any purchases can be shipped. 

    Like other Amazon email scams,  this phishing attempt uses urgency to get you to respond. In a classic double-bluff, the email may even suggest that there could be a fraud problem with your account. But the only fraudster is the person sending you the email!

    Example of an Amazon scam email trying to steal your payment information
    Scammers try to get you to “verify” your payment information. Source: Hertfordshire Mercury

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • Bad spelling or grammar. The email in the example above states, “Your Amazon Account are on hold due to a billing issue.” If you spot any typos or strange wording, don’t respond.
    • It encourages you to click on a link. No legitimate Amazon email instructs you to specifically log in by using a link. The safest way is always to log in directly via Amazon's website or app.
    • Relates to a recent order that you don’t recognize. If you don’t remember ordering anything, log in directly to Amazon to check your order history. If there’s nothing there, the email is a scam. 

    4. Fake Amazon gift card survey emails

    Scammers promise free Amazon gift cards to entice people to share information. Unfortunately, victims who reply to these Amazon email scams don't realize the truth until it's too late: there is no gift card — and you just handed your information to a fraudster.

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • Offers that seem too good to be true. An unsolicited offer of free $1,000 Amazon gift cards for taking a survey or answering questions should raise alarm bells. 
    • It asks for personal information. Beware of any email or survey that asks for sensitive information, like your SSN, banking information, or credit card information.
    • No sign of promotion online. If Amazon was really giving away high-value gift cards, you would be able to find more information on Amazon’s website, social media pages, or third-party news websites. If there’s nothing to back up the claims in the email, you’re dealing with a fraudster. 

    💡 Related: 10 Amazon Gift Card Scams You Need To Avoid

    5. Fraudulent Amazon Prime subscription renewal emails

    In these Amazon email scams, you’re notified that it’s almost time to renew your Amazon Prime subscription — but your card is no longer valid. If you believe this bogus message, you could disclose your credit card numbers to scammers when you click on the renewal prompt. 

    Example of an Amazon Prime scam email
    Scammers target Amazon Prime customers with fake renewal notices. Source: Reddit

    In July 2022, Amazon warned Prime members about increased phishing attacks ahead of Prime Day. A common tactic around this time is for fraudsters to scare people into thinking their account is about to expire — and they could lose their Prime Membership benefits ahead of the big sales day [*]. 

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • A suspicious sender. The "from" address is fake. Hackers use stolen computer resources to send these emails. Take a screenshot of the email and report it to stop-spoofing@amazon.com.
    • Includes an attached PDF. Any attached file is likely to contain malware. Amazon won’t include attachments, so you should never open any attachments in an email that claims to be from Amazon.
    • The email isn’t verified on your Amazon account. You can see all official communications from Amazon in the “Messages” section of your account — including any emails Amazon sent to you. 

    6. Amazon invoice and return policy scam

    This variation of the fake order confirmation scam starts with an email that includes an invoice along with details about returning products. Everything about the email looks legitimate and may even include your name — which might convince you that it’s real. 

    But like the other Amazon email scams, this phishing attempt seeks to gain your confidence so that you will share critical information. If you try to return the unwanted product, you will need to open an attachment or click on a link. Once you do, you play right into the scammer’s hands.

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • The email doesn't include the Amazon logo. If you can see the “smile” logo next to emails from an @amazon sender, it's authentic communication from Amazon. Don't respond or click on anything if you don't see the logo.
    • Arrives in the spam folder. When you have a real account with Amazon, you should have no problem receiving emails about orders in your inbox. Be cautious of anything flagged as suspicious by your email provider. 
    • Return policy is in an attachment. You can view all information about returning products on Amazon’s website. Avoid clicking on links or attachments, especially if you don’t recognize the order.

    💡 Take the test: 20 Phishing Email Examples — Can You Spot Them?

    7. You’re owed a refund from Amazon

    Lately, scammers have started claiming that customers are owed a refund from Amazon in order to get prospective victims to act quickly. All you need to do is click on the link and confirm some information.

    Example of a fake refund notice from Amazon
    Fake refund emails promise cash but steal your payment or account information instead. Source: PTG

    In 2021, Merrimack County Savings Bank issued an alert about this scam, explaining how phony Amazon representatives convince victims to download remote desktop software. If you do this, the scammer takes over your computer and makes fraudulent transactions [*]. 

    How to tell if it’s a scam (and what to do):

    • Unexpected refund offer. The email includes details about an order you can’t confirm through the website or app. Always visit Amazon’s official website or use the app on your device to log in and check your previous orders.
    • Unusual refund process. If you respond to the email, the scammer may ask you to download a program called AnyDesk. Don't do this, as this remote desktop software grants the fraudster access to your computer.
    • Persistent contact. If you engage in the initial email, the scammers will continue contacting you, insisting that you must take action to claim your refund. Block the sender's address and contact Amazon directly to report something suspicious.

    💡 Related: 14 Amazon Scams You Didn’t Know About (Until Now)

    What To Do If You Open (or Click in) an Amazon Scam Email

    The good news is that Amazon email scams aren't a huge threat unless you take the bait. You're safe if you don't click on links, open attachments, or call phone numbers. But if you do respond to the fraudster, you could be at risk. 

    If you click on a link or attachment in any Amazon scam emails, follow the step-by-step guide below:

    1. End all contact immediately. Unsubscribe, block the sender's address, and mark the email as junk or spam, so your email client stops these malicious emails from reaching your inbox. 
    2. Scan your computer for viruses. Scammers can use malware such as keyloggers to steal your passwords and hack your accounts. Aura helps you secure your devices from hackers with trusted antivirus software and a virtual private network (VPN).
    Aura's antivirus protects your devices against hackers
    Aura includes powerful antivirus software and a military-grade VPN to keep you safe from hackers. Try Aura free for 14 days and see if it’s right for you →
    1. Change all passwords. Make sure you create new, unique, strong, complex login credentials for your most valuable online portals — namely your email, banking, and IRS tax accounts
    2. Review your Amazon order history. Look for any unfamiliar transactions or activity, and make a note of anything suspicious. 
    3. Report the fraud to Amazon. Supply your notes, along with any screenshots of suspected scam emails. Follow Amazon’s guidance around suspicious activity, and request refunds if needed.
    4. Notify banks and payment companies. Let your bank or credit card issuer know about the incident, and check for unauthorized changes on your account. If you used a wire transfer company such as Wise or Western Union, you must contact them directly and ask to reverse the charges.
    5. File an identity theft report. You can submit an official identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Visit IdentityTheft.gov and provide full details about the scam.
    6. File a police report with local law enforcement. This step is optional if the scam happened outside of Amazon's platform and you believe the perpetrator is in the local area.
    7. Check your personal data exposure. Fraudsters sell stolen data online, including credit card numbers, SSNs, and phone numbers. You can use Aura’s free Dark Web scanner to check if your private data has been compromised. 
    Aura's free Dark Web scanner
    1. Tell your friends, family, and your employer. By spreading the word about Amazon email scams, you can protect others from falling victim.

    How To Protect Yourself Against Amazon Email Scams

    After taking the steps above, you will be well on your way to recovering from any impact of fraud. Unfortunately, fraudsters aren’t going anywhere. 

    If you want to keep your family and finances safe, an identity theft protection solution is the best defense. 

    Every Aura plan includes top-rated identity theft protection, three-bureau credit monitoring, a password manager, military-grade VPN, and antivirus software to protect your devices and block scam emails. And if the worst should happen, every adult on your Aura plan is covered for up to $1,000,000 in insurance for eligible losses due to identity theft.

    Shop, browse & work online safely with Aura. Start your 14-day free trial today!

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    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers