Stay calm, think, act
From the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia:
Want some advice about scams? Stay calm. Con artists use that feeling of alarm to trick victims into acting before they can think. BBB Scam Tracker is seeing reports of a con that claims your Amazon, Paypal, or other account has been compromised. Scammers hope you’ll panic and fall for their scheme.
How the Scam Works
You receive an email, call, or text message informing you there’s been suspicious activity in your bank or another account, such as Amazon, Netflix, or PayPal. You need to “take immediate action” to prevent your account from being compromised or to avoid being charged for a fraudulent purchase. Don’t fall for it!
The email version of this con uses the company’s logo, colors, and language to make the message look just like an official alert. A link in the message leads to a website that asks for your account number, login and password information, or even your Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid insurance number. If you share this information, you could well become the victim of identity theft and fraud.
In the phone version the caller claims to have noticed an expensive charge recently posted on your account, which “you didn’t make.” Some victims told BBB Scam Tracker that the caller pushed them to download phony “security software” to their phone or computer. This is really malware, which gave scammers access to sensitive information stored on their devices.
In other versions, the caller insists you need to buy prepaid gift or debit cards in order to reverse the fraudulent charges and secure your account. One victim told BBB Scam Tracker that they received a call from the “Amazon verification department.” After noticing fraudulent purchases, Amazon allegedly put a hold on their account. In order to lift the hold, the scam caller convinced the victim “to buy $200 of Google Play cards. This was needed to use the codes to cancel the orders. [The scammer] said I needed to do it right away; the account could only be on hold for a short time.”
How to Avoid “Compromised Account” Scam:
- Be very cautious with unsolicited calls, emails, and texts. Don’t be quick to believe claims from unsolicited communications.
- Understand how businesses handle communications. If you know how disputes and suspicious activity is handled, it will be easier to spot a scam. For example, PayPal clearly states that they will never send you an email asking you for sensitive information like your password or ask you to download attachments or software.
- Look into the claims. Don’t take action without first verifying the claims. Log into your account or look up the company’s official phone number (check your bill or welcome email) and call them to confirm that there really is a case of suspicious activity associated with your account before you decide what to do.
- Don’t panic and don’t feel intimidated. Scammers want you to panic. They may use intimidation tactics to pressure you into giving up your personal information or making payments. Legitimate businesses will not intimidate you in this way. Stay calm and think things through before you act.
- Never give your personal information to strangers. If you aren’t speaking or corresponding with someone you know and trust, don’t give them sensitive information.
For More Information
If you’ve been the victim of this or a similar scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help educate other consumers by raising awareness of scammers’ tactics.
About BBB: BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.