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Amazon, Apple continues to top list of impersonator scams

By Terry Cutler

If Amazon or Apple has reached out to confirm a recent purchase, or offer a refund, or claim someone has hacked your account—you’re one click or phone call away from falling for a business impersonator scam

If Amazon or Apple has reached out to confirm a recent purchase, or offer a refund, or claim someone has hacked your account—you’re one click or phone call away from falling for a business impersonator scam. Other phony claims include an undelivered or lost package, or an unfulfilled order requiring more money.

Of course, since you’ve been following me, you know never to click or call a number. Still, since July 2020, about one in three people in the USA have reported a business impersonator scam. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Data Spotlight, with scammers pretending to be a customer representative from either Amazon or Apple.  

In Canada, the Better Business Bureau, in February 2021 reported that In British Columbia an increase in calls from people pretending to be an Amazon employee, caught their attention. 

Here’s how it works.

If you call the phony number, a phony representative is more than happy to give you that refund. These reps may even report that they will be fired if they don’t refund you. If they trap you in, and you give up remote access to your bank accounts, the treachery continues.

The rep will add a couple of extra zeros, so you are over-refunded. It’s simple, though—just return the extra money. The phoney representative is even more panicked that their bosses would fire them if you didn’t comply. Once you “return” the money, thinking it’s Amazon or Apple, it’s going into the impersonator’s account. 

Or, the impersonator scammer may call or email you to tell you that your Amazon or Apple account has been hacked. To resolve the problem, they offer a purchase of gift cards and send pictures of the blocking codes on the back of the cards. You are told sharing them can block the hackers who hijacked your Amazon or Apple account. 

So you make the purchase. The money on the card ends up in the impersonator’s account.  

Amazon impersonation scams may harm older adults more than any other demographic. People ages 60 and up are four times more likely than younger people to report losing money to an Amazon impersonator. 

Here are some ways to avoid any impersonator scam:

  • You should never call back an unknown number. 
  • Never give access to your personal and bank accounts to anyone claiming to be a representative of any company. 
  • Never pay for a gift card, and if someone tells you they need the numbers on the back of a gift card to block a hacker, you know you are in the middle of an impersonator scam.
  • Amazon and Apple won’t ask customers to make payments outside their website or ask for remote access to a device.
  • When in doubt, check it out.

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