The 10 Top Amazon Scams of 2020 (and How to Avoid Them)

Be aware of how Amazon contacts you and stop scammers in their tracks

Amazon is the first stop for many of us when online shopping. Hugely popular and selling mostly everything imaginable, it's also a great target for scammers and fraudsters, much like services such as Craigslist.

Online scams are on the rise. Since Amazon is the largest retailer in the world, it's no surprise that its customers would be harassed by hackers and scammers. There are dozens of Amazon scams out there; the key to avoiding them is to be vigilant and follow smart online safety tips such as avoiding dangerous websites and never clicking email links to steer clear of mayhem.

Here's a look at the top Amazon scams out there at the moment.

01
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Alexa Tech Support Scam

Robojap home page

If anyone has ever offered to help you set up Amazon Alexa on your device for a fee, you've been targeted by a scam according to Amazon. The scheme works through the use of fake website error messages that prompt people to call a phone number for assistance in resolving the error. From there, non-Amazon certified representatives gain remote control of a victim's computer as they claim to fix fake issues involving the activation of Alexa devices. Once 'repaired', they charge hundreds of dollars for their assistance.

Amazon customer support doesn't charge a penny to help users set up their Alexa-enabled devices and can be directly reached through the Amazon website. The retail giant has filed a lawsuit against two companies,Robojap Technologies and Quatic Software Solutions, claiming among other things, that those companies are not authorized by Microsoft in any way and that their services to fix phony issues were diverting unsuspecting victims away from Amazon's genuine activation process and free customer support. The lesson here: Only work with Amazon customer service reps to resolve Alexa issues. If you land on a site that shows Alexa error warning messages, ignore them and leave the site immediately.

02
of 10

Amazon Work From Home Scam

A woman sitting at her desk at home looking at a laptop

Hero Images / Getty Images

Most people would love to work from home and the Amazon work-from-home scam taps into that dream. It occurs a few different ways, with you either receiving a phone call, email, or seeing an advert online. The result is the same. You're told to go to a specific website to sign up and start working for a good hourly wage. It sounds too good to be true because it is.

Go to the website and you're asked to pay a fee to cover your starting costs. No genuine job will ever expect you to pay to start out. Avoid entering any details and leave the site immediately.

03
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Amazon Affiliate Program Scam

A man sitting on a sofa looking at his laptop with a cup of coffee in his hand

Hero Images / Getty Images

In a similar way to the work from home scam, the Amazon Affiliate Program Scam works by the victim being called by someone claiming to be a local area rep for Amazon. They encourage you to set up a local website with them so you can sell Amazon products as a kind of middle man or clearing house. 

The catch is you have to pay a set fee to start up the website and get the whole thing running. Oh, and there's a maintenance fee each month, too. Don't agree to any of this, and never hand over your card details to a scammer. There's a perfectly legitimate affiliate program available via the Amazon website.

04
of 10

The Amazon Prime Day Scam

Amazon Prime Day scam email received by celebrity Kim Komando

Kim Komando 

Every year, Amazon holds an event called Prime Day and sells hundreds of products at ridiculously low prices to clear its inventory. Because so many people flock to the retailer and purchase at least something small, scammers, of course, have figured out a way to take advantage of this innocent sales tactic: They email victims to thank them for their (supposed) purchase on the site and invite them to review their new product in exchange for a $50 prize.

Instead of directing victims to the real Amazon site, this phishing scam sends them to a fake site that requests their Amazon username and password. Once the unsuspecting user enters it, scammers have all they need to enter the person's Amazon account on their own, order things using saved credit cards, and update addresses to have products sent to bogus addresses.

If you receive an email thanking you for an order - particularly one you never made - do not click any links in the email and go as fast as you can in the other direction. Contact Amazon at stop-spoofing@amazon.com to inform them of the details so they can take action against the hackers. You can forward the email to them but they do prefer it as an attachment instead.

05
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Amazon Prime Scam

A person typing at a laptop with a cup of coffee next to them

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

The Amazon Prime scam involves receiving an automated phone call from Amazon suggesting someone has used your credentials to subscribe to Amazon Prime. You're then asked to press 1 to cancel the subscription before being requested to install a Team Viewer app to your PC allowing the 'representative' to fix the problem for you. They now have access to your PC and any important data on there. They may also request your bank details, too.

Never do anything these callers tell you to do. Instead, hang up and redial Amazon yourself so you can guarantee you're through to their helpline. 

06
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Amazon Prime Expiration Scam

A woman frowning at her smartphone

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images 

Similar to the above scam, fraudsters can call you and tell you that your Amazon Prime membership is expiring soon and you can renew it at a lower rate over the phone. Never do this. Amazon never calls regarding your Amazon Prime expiring. Instead, this is a method to get you to hand bank details over the phone.

Hang up the call and check the Amazon website to see if your Amazon Prime membership really is close to expiring. Never 'renew' over the phone. If you think you were a victim of an Amazon phishing phone call, you can report it to Amazon.

07
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Your Amazon.com Order Cannot Be Shipped Email Scam

A fake Amazon Refund Notification Message

Makemoneyonline.zone 

Received an email that states your order can't be shipped? It's almost certainly a phishing and email scam. They typically request that you confirm certain information, otherwise your Amazon account will be removed. To do so, you're expected to click a link and enter account details as well as banking details.

An alternative to this scam suggests you were charged double and to click a link to cancel one payment.

Delete this email immediately, log into Amazon from Amazon.com, then check your order status to see if an order has actually been canceled. It almost certainly hasn't been. 

08
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Amazon Discount Voucher Scam

An example of an Amazon discount voucher scam

BT.com 

The Amazon discount voucher is where you receive emails offering you substantial discounts for being a loyal customer. Unfortunately, this isn't a legitimate offer. You're prompted to click a link where you're asked to enter details such as your Amazon account information so you can 'receive' the discount.

Never click links you don't recognize. Always be wary of emails that you've received out of the blue, and check who has sent them and whether it looks like a legitimate email.

09
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Fake Order Confirmation Email Scam

An example of a fake Amazon order confirmation email

BT.com 

Received an email for an Amazon order you don't remember making? It's often a spoofed email and not actually genuine. It relies on you being worried someone has accessed your account so you click a link to see what's happening. Once you do, you're asked to log in and the scammer has your account details. 

If you receive an order confirmation email and you don't recognize the items, log into the Amazon website through your browser and check if it actually happened. 

10
of 10

Amazon Delivery Scam

A delivery man delivering a parcel to a woman

Dougal Waters / Getty Images

Receiving a random Amazon delivery might sound like a great thing, but it's not. For one thing, it almost certainly means your name and shipping address have been compromised, as well as potentially your phone number. 

It also tends to be a sneaky method for sellers to pose as a verified purchaser so they can write glowing reviews of their products. It's often done by third-party sellers selling substandard items. It might not be the worst scam out there for the victim, but it's an irritant and no one likes to have their personal information compromised.

What Should I Do If I'm A Victim?

Realized you're a victim to one of these Amazon frauds? Here are some crucial steps on what to do next and how best to spot potential scams in the future.

You can also report suspicious emails, phone calls, or fake websites to Amazon directly