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Amazon Prime customers, you’re being targeted

| July 30, 2020 1:00 AM

I’ve received calls from readers who are receiving text messages that their Amazon Prime account is going to be closed and their order history will be deleted unless they click on the link to reactivate their account.

Rather than click on the link, ignore the text message and go directly to your Amazon account. Send a message to Amazon regarding the status of your account if you think it might be closed.

It’s more likely than not that a scammer is phishing and wants to get you to click on the link because you do not want your account to be deleted.

Never click on links — particularly from unsolicited sources.

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SECRET SHOPPER SCAM: A Coeur d’Alene reader asked me to warn other readers about a text message he recently received. This one appeared to come from Whole Foods on a Houston phone number. The text mentioned that since the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Whole Foods does business, the company is taking steps to ensure it can provide customers with full support and services as we all wait for the pandemic to turn around.

The message goes on to state that Whole Foods Market (owned by Amazon) is beginning a huge research project in our area and is selecting shoppers to function as store evaluators (aka secret shopper). You’ll get $400 for every task you complete and the tasks take only 20-30 minutes. There is a link provided and the message is signed by Human Resources Manager- Global Operations Diana Grandison.

First problem for Coeur d’Alene is there isn’t a Whole Foods located nearby. But there’s more. As part of the scam, you’ll be sent a check for around $2,400 and told to keep $400 as your fee and purchase $2,000 in gift cards. You’re supposed to scratch off the numbers on back of the card and send the information via text message to the number provided.

Skip this offer since it is an old scam that has been around for a while. This one is just a variation of the old secret shopper scam.

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BOGUS AMAZON CHARGES: A reader emailed me with a story of her recent attempt to contact Amazon directly by phone after she noticed some unfamiliar Amazon charges on her credit card. After looking for a contact phone number on the Amazon website and not finding one, she decided to do a search for an Amazon contact phone number.

She called the number and after being convinced she had in fact reached Amazon, she was told to go out and buy gift cards so they could verify her location. Why? Because the charges she was questioning were made in different locations, they claimed, and they needed to verify her location.

Lucky for our loyal reader, she stopped the scam before buying gift cards as she had become wise to these scams.

Besides the lesson never to pay in gift cards, be careful with contacting numbers you find with online searches since those numbers may be inaccurate. Though talking to someone directly is a quicker way to resolve a problem, contacting a business via email appears to be a safer approach.

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FTC EMPLOYEE IMPERSONATION: This warning from the FTC is worrisome because this is the organization that consumers turn to when they need to report scams.

Senior Public Affairs Specialist Juliana Gruenwald Henderson warns consumers that scammers are impersonating her by sending emails informing them they are entitled to some money from a phone “Global Empowerment Fund” and the email requests their bank account or credit card information.

These emails are fake. The FTC will never send you an email asking you to share your bank account information, Social Security number or your credit card number. Also, if anyone asks you to wire money, pay by gift cards or with cryptocurrency, it is a scam.

If you’ve encountered this scam or any other, report it to the FTC: https://bit.ly/3jQdA7e

If you’ve given your personal information to someone you don’t know, you may be at risk for identity theft. Visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to learn what to do if a scammer has your personal information.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.