Everything on Amazon will scream ‘buy me!’ on Amazon Prime Day. Just don’t. Here’s where to look for deals and what not to buy on Amazon Prime Day, July 16. Jennifer Jolly, Special for USA TODAY
The online shopping frenzy generated by Amazon Prime Day may be a great way to find some deals. But remember, scammers love to tap into big events to try to catch you off guard.
Amazon Prime Day — which runs 36 hours this year — officially kicks off Monday afternoon. Plenty of retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, typically offer their own online deals during this made-up summer shopping holiday, too.
Too often, of course, things can look so great online that consumers are tempted to act first without wondering about the possibility of getting tricked by a spam email, a phony promise and some really bad customer service lines.
Don’t be fooled by super-cheap, crazy deals
The Better Business Bureau is warning this summer that it is seeing an increase in complaints from consumers who are tapping into social media and going shopping online.
About a third of online shoppers say they are using social networks to spot new items to buy, according to the BBB.
So it should be no surprise that some shady operators and scammers selling counterfeit merchandise, misleading consumers with prices that sound too good to be true and getting your money without delivering any products.
Coral McCarter, who lives in Ferndale, said she saw a Facebook ad in May for some cool-looking “pet warming beds” for her two pit bulls, Paige and Vincent. She spent about $67 to cover four plush beds, including two for her sister’s dogs, two toys and shipping. The extra-large dog beds seemed attractively priced at about $11 each.
“The size of them for the price, too good to be true,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.
But McCarter, 38, thought the company was legitimate when she saw the ad on Facebook and figured they had to go through a screening process. Things didn’t work out that way.
After she placed her order, she received a confirmation email and two days later, received a shipping notification email.
She wasn’t given a tracking number so that did seem weird. She also was told it would take 30 to 45 days to receive the items. But she wasn’t too worried because she thought the shipments might be from overseas.
Weeks and weeks went by but nothing showed up. When she went to “contact” company to get a status, she received an error message: “link disabled.”
“Everything I clicked on ‘link disabled, link disabled.’ I was like ‘Oh, my gosh,'” she said.
The company — called Pet Lovers Exclusive — was gone.
The only thing that did work in her favor, she said, was that she reported not receiving the items within a month or so. Her credit card issuer shut down the credit card and later refunded her money.
“More people need to be made aware of these types of scams,” she said.
The BBB Scam Tracker received a report this summer from a consumer who lost nearly $70 trying to get discounted Chaco sport sandals spotted on Facebook. The sandals, one of the Michigan-based Wolverine Worldwide brands, can sell for $100 or more. The so-called deal offered via Facebook turned into a dud. The shoes never showed up.
Another consumer complained about an order for clothing and shoes through Just Fashion Now. The problem? The company wanted $53 to return a $92 order.
The BBB noted that consumers are also getting hurt by misleading ads online that tout celebrity endorsements and promise a free trial for skin care products or nutritional supplements. What consumers soon discover is that they ended up agreeing somehow to multiple monthly shipments for such products and end up getting dinged for $70 to $100 a pop.
Watch out for Prime Day spam emails
Consumer watchdogs report that last year spam emails hit inboxes across the country, basically thanking the recipient for making a Prime Day purchase and offering a gift card to encourage them to post a review of the item they bought.
You might have even gotten one of these emails if you didn’t buy a thing. So that one was easy enough to ignore. But if you did shop on Prime Day, you might have been tempted to offer a review.
“The spam email, which looked like it came from Amazon, provided a link for posting a review and offered a $50 gift card for doing so. But instead of going to Amazon, victims were taken to a look-alike site where they were asked to log in,” according to ConsumerAffairs.com.
If the scammer convinced you to hand over your username and password, you’d give the scammer access to the Amazon account and a shot at ordering merchandise in your name.
If you receive a correspondence that you think may not be from Amazon, send the e-mail or web page to [email protected].
Another type of spam: Some scammers send emails impersonating Amazon, which amazingly needs to verify your account.
The spam email might say that Amazon could not confirm your address and you need to verify all your information. Just click on the link. Of course, you don’t want to fall for that one.
The link won’t lead to Amazon.com, but rather to a third-party website that could be carrying malware.
Beware of fake coupons
Con artists don’t just try to impersonate the Internal Revenue Service. Many times, they’re take advantage of other well-known brand names to steal your money or important pieces of identification.
Last week, for example, Kroger warned of a fake coupon that was circulating on social media offering $250 off Kroger purchases. Kroger warns that consumers should not provide any personal information to try to get their hands on what looks like a too-good-to-be-true discount. It’s a phony.
“While we don’t know exactly the intent of such fake coupons, we are taking all precautions and making sure our customers know that it is not a Kroger approved coupon and to not take part in it,” said Rachel Hurst, corporate affairs manager for Kroger’s Michigan division.
Watch out for fraudsters impersonating customer service
Scammers are even targeting Amazon customers who want to reach customer service. The scammers post fake customer service numbers that show up in online searches.
If customers called the phony number, they were asked to give personal information, including bank account and credit card information.
The customers’ accounts later were used to set up new Amazon accounts as well as accounts at Coinbase.com, a service that facilitates the purchase of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, according to KrebsOnSecurity report earlier this year.
KrebsOnSecurity said that a fraud investigator for a midsized bank had several customers who got suckered after searching for the customer support line for Amazon. Many customers wanted to cancel an Amazon Prime membership after the trial period ended and they were charged what was then a $99 fee.
Another version of that scam: Some consumers found charges for Amazon Prime memberships on their credit cards that they did not make. They called wrong Amazon numbers found online and somehow were asked to put $100 or $500 on a gift card to fix up the problem. Don’t do it.
The correct number for Amazon customer service is 888-280-4331.
You’ll have 36 hours of deals starting July 16. Time
Contact Susan Tompor: [email protected] or 313-222-8876. Follow Susan on Twitter @Tompor.
Read or Share this story: https://on.freep.com/2JneyV2