Voice of the consumer: Scammers preying on online shoppers during pandemic

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:37 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - With more people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, more families are online shopping.

Recently, AARP ElderWatch, which is a program with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, sent out a warning about scammers posing as Amazon workers to try to steal your money and personal information. There are several potential scams you need to be aware of.

That warning said to be careful of phone calls claiming to be from Amazon regarding a problem with your account.

Never give anyone over the phone information about your account or access to your computer, phone or tablet. If you get a text message that claims to be from Amazon, don’t click on any links in that text.

The same thing applies to emails. If it looks suspicious, don’t risk clicking on a link or following its instructions.

Always protect your Amazon user name and password. Only share it with people you know and trust. Also, make sure to change your password frequently.

I spoke to an Amazon representative who says if you receive a questionable email or phone call, report it. The company does investigate these complaints, and the representative told me Amazon will take action, if necessary. You can email to report.

If you get a suspicious phone call or text message, you should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission through its website:

AARP ElderWatch says these scams don’t just prey on Amazon customers. Scammers could also use similar tactics by posing as people who work at Walmart, FedEx, UPS or any other delivery service.

This week, I also want to tell you about a scam someone reported to me. I spoke with a man who lost $4,500 after getting two phony emails that claimed to be from Norton LifeLock.

The emails thanked the man for becoming a member and said he had successfully paid a total of about $500, even though the man never signed up.

When the man called the number listed on the email to dispute the alleged charges, the scammer told him he would refund the money but needed to take over the man’s computer.

The man gave him access, and the scammer started to refund $500 into the man’s bank account, but when the man looked again, the amount said $5,000. The scammer said he couldn’t change the amount, so he told the man to pay him back the $4,500 difference in gift cards, which the man did. When the man checked with his bank, they told him there had never been $5,000 deposited into his account.

If someone asks you to pay them in gift cards, it is most likely a scam. If you give someone access to your computer, immediately shut it off and take it to an expert to look at.

Remember, you can always report scams, fraud and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The consumer hotline number is 800-222-4444. If you want to speak to someone from AARP ElderWatch, call the same number and click option 2. That helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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