When it launched in 1994, Amazon was primarily an online resource for books. No one could have imagined the juggernaut the company would eventually become as a retailer for just about anything (literally). Nor could one have foreseen how influential the company would become in the worlds of entertainment and streaming technology. But that it has, and anyone who is an Amazon Prime member can take advantage.
At first a loyalty program for customers to get fast, free shipping and other deals, Amazon Prime has grown to include access to free e-books, music streaming, and an impressive video streaming service. Amazon Prime Video features any number of favorite TV shows and movies and, more recently, an array of exclusive original content.
There is a lot you can get with a Prime membership. For that, Amazon Prime has attracted all kinds of scammers. (You may recall the recent address brushing scam involving seeds from China.) How can you tell if you are about to be the victim of an Amazon Prime scam? How can you identify that someone may already have access to your account? Then, how do you stop them?
Read the following guide to find out more about some of the common scams associated with Amazon Prime, how to verify if your account has been hacked, and then how to get rid of any unauthorized users.
(Do you use a streaming service other than Amazon Prime Video? Check out our other Streaming Service Scams guides for help with other major providers.)
Popular Scams Associated with Amazon Prime Video
“This Is Amazon Calling”
Recent phone scams reported by the FTC include robocalls that present themselves as Amazon representatives. They will say that there’s something wrong with your account–a questionable item was purchased, a delivery was misdirected, or an order you made recently can’t be fulfilled. You need to act fast to secure it. This will often entail that you provide some sort of personal information to prove your identity and your connection to the account in question.
You can recognize this as a scam due to its great sense of urgency and, most importantly, any instructions to share payment, log-in or other personal information. Amazon would never require its members to recover a compromised account this way.
You will note that this particular scam is not specifically focused on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service. However, with that service intrinsically included in a Prime membership, it is automatically involved. In other words, should your Prime account be targeted, your Prime Video access is just as much at risk as any other component.
Phishing is the most common approach that scammers use, in general. And (along with Google) Amazon is the company that tends to be the most impersonated in such scamming attempts. This approach is convenient for scammers. And, since email is the primary means of communication for Amazon, it can be much more convincing to potential marks.
The messaging of such emails is similar to that of the aforementioned robocalls. Suspicious activity has been noted related to your account, and you need to confirm it right away. Instead of asking you to recite any payment information or log-in credentials, a phishing email will more likely direct you to click on a link. This link will be presented as a quick and convenient way to check your account.
It is not, of course. By clicking on a link in a phishing email, two things could happen:
- You load a scammer’s malware onto your device. This gives them continual backdoor access to the device and the information stored there. You won’t even know it happened right away. It will only become evident when you start to notice missing funds or issues with other accounts.
- You end up on a spoofed website. It may look like an Amazon page, which could convince you that the request for information is legitimate. Except it’s not. Any information you may input on such a page goes straight to a hacker.
Take the time to look over an email like this carefully. If the language seems particularly urgent, or if there are any grammatical or spelling errors, those are red flags for scamming. Verify the sender’s email address; see if it is spelled correctly and is coming from a legitimate source. And do the same thing with any buttons/links in the email. Hover your cursor over the link and see what the destination is. If it’s not a legitimate Amazon address, you have a scam on your hands.
Whether it comes by phone or email, Amazon recommends you report any suspicious contact. Doing so helps them to stay on top of the latest scams and continue to protect its users.
How to Find Out if Your Amazon Prime Account Was Hacked
If someone manages to get access to your Amazon Prime account without your permission, one of the most obvious signs will probably be unauthorized purchases. Or, you may notice that your password or other account information has been changed.
If you notice any suspicious activity related to your account, report it to Amazon. And then, take the following steps:
Steps You Should Take to Block Hackers
If you think someone has been able to access your account without your permission, or you just want to ensure that it never happens to begin with, Amazon recommends you do the following:
- Change your password.
- Enable two-step verification.
- Install antiviral or antimalware software, and keep it up-to-date.
- Stay up-to-date on software and plug-in versions.
- Do not reply to unsolicited emails.
- Do not place any orders with a seller outside of the Amazon platform.
- Ignore scammy-looking pop-ups.
- Don’t leave your devices in public unattended.
- Set a device to connect to Wi-Fi manually, not automatically.
- Change any preset wireless network names or passwords to ones of your choosing.
Simply put, Amazon is a big target for scammers, which means that Prime members are big targets for scammers. But with a little vigilance, a cool head, and common sense, you can keep them from making you a victim.
This post is one in a series about managing streaming service scams. Others include:
For more information about other kinds of scams, you can find it on the PeopleFinders blog.
Photo credit: nikkimeel – www.shutterstock.com