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Shelbyville woman, BBB warn of Amazon shopping scam

Scammers pose as Amazon customer service
Teola Hornaday (right) is concerned about scams in which scammers pose as Amazon customer service and target senior citizens like her mother, Katrina (left).
Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 19:56:56-04

SHELBYVILLE — As COVID-19 remains a concern, many people are opting to do their shopping online rather than in a store.

The Better Business Bureau says scammers know this, and that’s why they’re seeing an uptick in complaints about scammers posing as Amazon customer service.

Teola Hornaday of Shelbyville was hanging with her mother Katrina, 74, when her mom’s phone rang.

It was Amazon, telling Katrina her account had been used to purchase $100 in iPhones.

"I told her get off the phone, get off the phone,” said Hornaday. “She got off the phone, and I said ‘give me the phone number.’"

Hornaday was skeptical.

First of all, iPhones cost a lot more than $100.

“I called them back, and I acted very distraught and said somebody has called me and said the thing about the $100 phone, and they said yes I did call you,” said Hornaday. “I said ‘no you didn't, you called my mother, and this is a scam.' And they said yes, it is a scam.”

Thankfully, Hornaday and her mother did not lose any money.

“I happened to be there that day,” said Hornaday.

Hornaday said she also got a similar phone call — a computerized robocall claiming to be from Amazon.

“It's very easy to be scammed,” said Hornaday.

The Better Business Bureau says they’re seeing an uptick in online shopping scams, especially where the scammer poses as Amazon.

It could be a phone call, text, social media message or email that looks like it came from Amazon.

“What they're trying to do is get information from you about the account, maybe get your credit card number,” said Tim Maniscalo, president of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana. “It's their way of trying to make you think-something is wrong with your Amazon account and you want to get it fixed."

WRTV Investigates reached out to Amazon who told us if there’s a problem with your account, you’ll receive an email notification.

However, there will not be a direct, and instead you need to go log into your account from a new browser.

“If our automated systems detect a possible security issue the account will be flagged and an automatic email is sent alerting the customer as well,” said an Amazon spokesperson in an email to WRTV. “Any customer that receives a questionable email, call or text from a person impersonating an Amazon employee should report them to Amazon customer service. Amazon investigates these complaints and will take action, if warranted.”

Amazon does make some outbound calls to customers. However, the company will never ask you to disclose or verify personal information or offer you a refund you don’t expect.

“If you get an unsolicited phone call or email- be very suspicious of that,” said Maniscalo. “That's typically not how this is going to happen."

You can report suspicious calls or emails from people impersonating Amazon employees to stop-spoofing@amazon.com.

You can also filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau.

Hornaday filed a complaint with the BBB about the phone call her mom received.

“If it had happened to me, I would have known it was a scam, but my mom would have worried and worried and given them the information had I not been there but luckily I was there that day,” said Hornaday.

Hornaday’s mom, Katrina, died a few months after getting that scam Amazon phone call.

She finds it disturbing that people are trying to take advantage of senior citizens.

Hornaday hopes her story will save others from falling for the Amazon shopping scam.

“People do need to know,” said Hornaday.

BBB Tips to avoid online shopping scams:

  • Beware of fake lookalike websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain , search for contact information, and read online reviews.
  • Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Scammers often steal photos off other websites, so don’t believe what you see.
  • Make sure the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “http.” It is NOT secure.
  • Be careful purchasing sought-after products. If something is sold out everywhere, don’t be tempted by a seemingly great deal. Scammers often trick shoppers by offering the most popular products at low prices. Here’s one example involving game consoles.
  • Pay with a credit card. It’s always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Be very wary of any retailer that asks you to pay by digital wallet apps , prepaid money cards, or other non-traditional payment methods.

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