Beware of these scams on Amazon Prime Day

By Sarah Min

/ MoneyWatch

Amazon Prime members a new U.S. majority

Amazon Prime Day will kick off on Monday with 48 hours of deals for tens of millions of consumers who are Amazon Prime members, but the surge in internet traffic is also likely to attract scammers looking to steal your data and payment card details.

"Consumers should proceed with caution," Monique Becenti, product and channel specialist at SiteLock, said in a statement. "A marked discount shopping holiday means there is vast opportunity for cybercriminals to try to steal information."

Shoppers should consider adding extra security such as two-factor authentication and virtual private networks, which make it more difficult for scammers to steal your data. Scammers typically auction off personal information to criminals on the dark web. In the wrong hands, the information can be used by hackers to access other logins, like bank accounts, raising the risk of stolen assets and identity theft.

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Here are four scams shoppers should be on the lookout for on this year's Prime Day on July 15 and 16:

Spoofed sites

Shoppers should access Amazon.com directly from their browser, rather than through an email or link, experts said. That's because fraudulent links can redirect consumers to websites crafted to resemble Amazon, but which are actually fake and set up to steal your credit card data. If you come across a spoofed Amazon site, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

"If something doesn't look right, it's probably not right," SiteLock's Becenti said.

Shoppers who use two-factor authentication on Amazon (which you can turn on here) will be prompted for their details before they proceed on the site. If they don't receive the usual prompt, it's a red flag that the site isn't authentic.

Malicious coupon code redirects

Amazon offers coupons on Prime Day, which means some scammers will copy this technique in the hope that shoppers click on their phony discount offers. Be wary of emails including coupons promising steep Prime Day discounts because those coupons may instead redirect shoppers to a spoofed site. Once the shopper tries to complete a fake purchase, the scammers can collect a trove of personal information.

Gift card scams

Another common scam involves Amazon gift cards. Con artists typically contact victims on the phone to convince them they owe a debt, and then instruct them to purchase Amazon gift cards online or at a nearby drugstore. Fraudsters will demand the victim provide the claim code on the gift card and then disappear.

Email phishing marketing campaigns

Shoppers should be on the alert for fraudulent emails. Con artists will create emails that claim to be from Amazon or another trusted site, but which ask consumers to divulge their Social Security numbers, tax IDs or bank account numbers. Amazon, however, will never ask for such sensitive data through email.

Fortunately, there's a quick solution. Always check the source of the email for the @amazon.com email address. If the email address comes from any other sender, it should be flagged and immediately reported to the FTC.

First published on July 14, 2019 / 3:22 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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