The Amazon Text Scam: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself From It

That text has nothing to do with a delivery at all

Ordering a lot more from Amazon lately due to stay-at-home orders? Scammers know it. They've come up with twist on the old package tracking scam in an effort to part you from your money.

What Is the Amazon Text Scam?

There are a couple of variations of this scam. In one, you'll receive a text that asks you to set delivery preferences for the package you're expecting from Amazon. Others claim to have noticed suspicious activity on your Amazon account that you should check immediately. In yet another, you'll be told that you have a new Amazon reward to claim.

It might say something like, "Amazon values your continued business! Receive a $50 gift card or reward simply by completing our short survey," and then there's a link. You can reply "STOP" for removal (but don't!)

In all versions, it appears to be a harmless text from Amazon. Your first clue that it's a scam? Amazon never sends text messages to customers.

How Does the Scam Work?

The goal is to obtain your personal information (username, password, address and phone number) and banking information to use it elsewhere on the internet.

If you do click the provided link, you'll typically be sent to a fake Amazon website that asks you to fill out a customer satisfaction survey in return for a free gift. You'll be required to fill in some personal information and supply a credit card number to cover the shipping and handling fees for this amazing, 'free' gift.

Sample of the fake Amazon survey site used by scammers 

How Do Scammers Find Victims for This Scam?

Scams like this are known as smishing. Criminals find blocks of phone numbers and names on the web or have stolen them through other schemes, then use them to randomly contact victims.

They'll often include your name to make the scam seem more real but don't fall for it. They actually have no idea who you are; your name and phone number is one of thousands on their list.

If you respond to one of these texts, you immediately become more interesting to the scammer because you've now verified that your phone number is active and that there is someone on the other end willing to engage. That automatically puts you on their list to send other texting scams to your number.

I'm Already a Victim. What Should I Do?

If you find that you are a victim of fraud or a scam, the first thing to do contact your bank and credit card companies immediately to help secure your accounts and reverse any transactions that might have been made.

Next, change your username and password details on all accounts. As you do, add two-factor authentication (2FA) to any accounts that offer it; that added layer of protection will protect you in the future and reduce the panic involved if you ever become a victim of a scam again.

You can also file separate reports via the FBI website or local FBI field office and the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant. Keep records of the texts in case they’re ever needed for a future investigation or court case.

How Do I Avoid Being Targeted for The Amazon Text Scam?

Because texting scams like this are based on random (usually stolen) lists, no one can ever truly avoid becoming a target. There are several ways, however, that you can avoid becoming a victim.

  • When in doubt, don't get involved: Remember, Amazon won't ever text you about a package. But if you're not sure about a message you receive, go directly to Amazon yourself to confirm any communications.
  • Never, ever respond to a suspicious text. Just delete the message and block the sender. Replying STOP only confirms your phone is active, which encourages more texts.
  • Don't hand out your phone number needlessly: Many places online ask for personal details in exchange for setting up various services but if you can skip the phone number, do.
  • Carefully read each text you receive: Smishing attempts rely on victims not paying attention and blindly responding to any message received. Be aware and look out for anything that doesn't make sense to you.