What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself from This Common Phone Scam

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Apr 10, 2024

Scams seem to be getting increasingly popular, and with the increase of technology, it’s easy for scammers to convince you their lie is real.

One of the latest scams is the Amazon scam, and while you may think you would never fall for a scam, it turns out that no one is safe.

The Amazon Phone Call Scam

You get a call and see a number that isn’t saved on your phone. You decide to answer it, because it might be something (or someone) important.

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A woman on a phone call. She is holding the phone to her ear and running her hand through her hair. She looks worried.

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The person on the other end of the line says they work in customer service at Amazon and that there is some suspicious activity on your Amazon account. This is enough to worry anyone.

Persuading Customers Apple Products Have Been Bought

Apple products are among the more expensive items available on Amazon, so the thought that someone might have used your account or money to buy something expensive is quite worrying.

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A person holding three iPhones. They vary in size and color. The biggest one is blue, the second is grey, and the smallest is white.

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According to the University of Virginia, in this particular scam, the scammers will rely on your sense of urgency and fear over it being such an expensive product to get you.

People Are Told Other Items Have Been Bought Using Their Name

Scammers aren’t just leaving it at some Amazon products. They may also tell you that gangs have bought cars in your name and have used them for illegal activity.

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They will claim that the car has been bought or rented in your name and has been used to smuggle drugs in and out of the country and that if you don’t cooperate with them, you could be arrested.

No One Is Safe from Phone Scams

Many believe that elderly people or those in a vulnerable position are the most likely to fall for a scam.

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A person holding a white smartphone. The screen is on and shows a list of messages and missed phone calls.

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According to the Federal Trade Commission, studies show that younger people under the age of 60 are more likely to fall for online shopping scams than those over 60.

Scammers Have Access to Your Social Media

One reason scams are more elaborate and believable these days is that they can access your social media accounts.

A person looking at their laptop and phone. The laptop has Facebook open on someone’s profile page. The phone screen is blurred.

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All they have to do is search your name online, and they will be able to find your accounts. From this, they can determine where you live, your age, who your family and friends are, and even what you had for dinner last night.

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Fake Documents Can Be Made

With Photoshopping skills and AI becoming increasingly realistic, this makes it much easier for scammers to forge false documents.

A person looking through some paper documents. The piece of paper on the top has ‘scam’ written in grey writing and has been underlined.

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They can create false emails and letters. They can also forge badges and numbers to make it look like they are a legitimate person.

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One Woman Lost $50,000

Journalist Charlotte Cowles had initially thought that she would never fall for a scam like this, but tells her story of falling for the Amazon phone scam in The Cut.

A woman sat counting through some money.

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She says that one of the main reasons why she fell for the scam was because they mentioned her 2-year-old son and didn’t want any harm to come to him, but they also had her social security number (SSN).

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Scammers Can Falsify Real Numbers

Another reason Charlotte Cowles fell for the scam was that they called her using a seemingly real government number.

A phone call on an iPhone from the number ‘2024’. It has the option of whether to answer or hang up.

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Having initially been on a phone call to one of the scammers and telling him she didn’t believe him, he told Cowles to look up the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) number, then hung up, and rung her back on that number. This is because scammers use computers to spoof phone numbers, according to Kaspersky.

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Call the Company Scammers Are Claiming to Be

Scammers will always almost certainly claim to be calling from a well-known company.

A man with his back to the camera on a phone call. He is holding the phone to his ear.

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If you’re not sure, hang up the call and call the actual company and tell them what the scammers have told you. If it turns out to be legit, then great. However, if it turns out to be a scam, you are at least avoiding potentially losing thousands of dollars.

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Scammers Will Tell you Not to Talk to Anyone Else

When going through an experience like this, all you want to do is talk to the people around you, because it can be quite a scary experience.

A man with his head in his hands. He has the blinds shut and is on his own

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However, scammers will claim that it’s important you don’t. As Charlotte Cowles experienced, she was told not to talk to anyone. The scammers told her that a friend or acquaintance could have been behind her supposed stolen identity. The real reason is that scammers know the people around you will tell you it’s a scam and encourage you not to believe what they’re saying.

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Scammers Want You to Transfer Them Money

Any scam most commonly involves money. The scammers want you to transfer them an amount of money they choose, claiming it will keep you safe.

A man sat at his desk with a laptop and credit card. He is holding the card and is putting the numbers from it into his laptop.

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In Charlotte Cowles’ case, she was told she had to take out $50,000 from the bank, put it in a box, tape it shut, and put it in a car. This was because she was told they would have to shut her accounts and give her a new SSN — which all turned out to be a lie.

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What You Need to Know

As the FTC suggests, you should consider certain things before providing any information if you believe you may be being scammed.

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The FTC states that it will not call and ask for your SSN or any other personal information. It has also said not to confirm your SSN or any bank details. Finally, if you are asked to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash or cryptocurrency, it is definitely a scam.

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