November 26, 2021

-Global News

The Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers to be extra vigilant 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 that they are calling on behalf of Amazon and that there is a problem and that they need immediate attention. They need payments or they need your information,” the president & CEO at Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC,  Simone Lis, told Consumer Matters.

The U.S. based Federal Trade Commission reports that between July 2020 and June 2021, one in three people who reported 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 individual was $1,000.

Fraudsters trick unsuspecting victims by sending a message via text or a link about suspicious activity or unauthorized purchases on their Amazon account.

When the victim calls the number provided to resolve the issue, the fraudster fools the victim into handing over personal information.

“If your personal information gets in the hands of a criminal, that information can be used for identity theft, “Lis said.

“Consumers should know that when they are getting any unsolicited communication from companies, regardless of what the company is, you’ve got to pause. Make sure who you are dealing with is legitimate, especially if they are asking for information or they are requesting immediate attention,” she added.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says it’s also concerned about the impersonation scam as consumers shop online this Black Friday.

“The holidays are a higher risk for consumers to fall victim to this scam,” said the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Sue Labine. “It’s definitely growing, especially with the Amazon scam because it’s one of the most efficient ways to shop now,” adds Labine.

The BBB says these types of scams are becoming more sophisticated and show no sign of slowing down. “I believe scam artists are a business too and they are running their business,” Lis said. “Scam artists use other organizations, including the Better Business Bureau’s name to catch people’s attention. It’s really important we educate people that they take efforts to protect themselves.”

In a statement, Amazon told Consumer Matters:

“Amazon works hard to delight our customers and we take action when we see bad actors attempting to misuse our brand to deceive unsuspecting customers.”

Amazon says in 2020, it invested over $700 million globally and employed more than 10,000 people to protect its store from fraud and abuse.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre recommends consumers hang up the phone if they receive an unsolicited call, avoid clicking on links sent via email, and do not respond to text messages.

If you are a victim of fraud, it’s recommended you report it to Amazon, the Better Business Bureau and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.