ARLINGTON, VA— Want some advice about scams? Stay calm. Con artists use that feeling of alarm to trick victims to acting before they can think. BBB Scam Tracker is seeing reports of a con that claims that 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. In some examples, the emails are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. A link in the message leads to website that asks for your account number, login, and password information. If you share this information, you give scammers access to that account—as well as anywhere else you use the same password.

In the phone version, the caller claims to have noticed an expensive charge, which you didn’t make, on your account. Some victims told BBB Scam Tracker that the caller pushed them to download phony “security software.” This is really malware, which gave scammers access to sensitive information, such as passwords.

Read more about this con in the full Scam Alert on BBB.org.

How to avoid these scams:

• Be extra cautious with unsolicited calls, emails, and texts. Don’t be quick to believe claims from unsolicited communications.

• Want to check on your account status? Go directly to the website. Don’t click on links in suspicious emails. Instead, go directly to the website in question and 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.

• 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 for your password or to download attachments or software.

• Don’t panic and don’t feel intimidated. Scammers want you to panic. They may use intimidation tactics to pressure you into acting before you have time to think. Stay calm and think things through. Legitimate businesses will not intimidate you in this way.

• 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

Read more about scams impersonating Amazon and how to protect yourself from phishing cons.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.

Trending Video

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you