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Consumers warned to beware of scammers on Amazon Prime Day

Phishing, fake websites, and bogus advertisements top the warning list

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Photo (c) AdrianHancu - Getty Images
Online shopping scams on Prime Day? You bet. 

While Prime Day might be an Amazon-branded event, the online retail giant isn’t the only company trying to attract customers. Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and others are also trying to draw in consumers with special deals during the annual shopping event. 

Consumers have been hot on the trail of all the deals being offered. Google reports that searches for “show Prime Day deals” were up 600% in the 24 hours leading up to Prime Day’s official start. Searches for “Walmart Prime Day deals” were up 90%, and searches for “Target Prime Day deals were up 50%.

Unfortunately, more deals mean more chances for scammers to capitalize on the hoopla and bamboozle shoppers. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says there are several scams that consumers should be on the lookout for. 

Phishing expeditions lead the way

First on the BBB’s list is phishing scams -- a type of fraud in which an attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to trick a victim into revealing sensitive information like a credit card number. 

“Phishing scams increase during busy shopping times, such as Prime Day or Black Friday,” the BBB warns. “When you are making a lot of purchases, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what you bought and where you shopped. That makes you more likely to fall for a phishing scam posing as a big name store.”

Phishing attacks don’t only come in the form of emails. They can also be delivered via text messages and phone calls. In some instances, attackers will try to entice you to click on a link or give up personal information so that you can receive a gift. If you see that kind of offer, then you should stop right then and there because it’s likely a scam. 

One recent phishing con the BBB reported on involved a scammer who claimed to be an Amazon representative who was calling to fix an issue with the victim’s account. This is a favorite ruse because a scammer can load up on personal data -- credit card information, account login details, and remote access to your computer -- in one fell swoop.

Phony websites and fake ads are also in vogue

The BBB says misleading ads and copycat websites are also a favorite tool of hackers.

“When searching online or browsing social media, watch out for ads that point to scam websites,” the BBB advises. “Con artists often create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. But when you look more closely at the URL, you’ll notice that the domain name is slightly different (i.e., Instead of Popularstore.com, the URL might be PopvlarStore.com or PopularStoreOnline.com).”

Some other telltale signs to look out for include bad spelling and grammar used on the fake website and deals that sound too good to be true. The BBB says consumers should remain a little cautious when looking at special sales on Prime Day. If a company claims to be selling the hottest item of the year at a super low price, then it’s possible that they’re trying to pull a scam.

The agency says smart consumers will also pay attention to deals advertised on social media and regard them with a grain of salt.

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