If you get a call from Amazon about a package during the Christmas shopping season, you will be a lot better off if you just hang up.
The latest trend in scam calls this year involves imposters posing as Amazon, Apple or PayPal representatives, but none of those businesses do business over the phone.
“These scammers call out of the blue and suggest — under the guise of wanting to help remedy the situation — that a large purchase has been charged to your credit card,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press release issued Monday. “Legitimate companies don’t do business this way, so just hang up. These impostors want to get you on the line and cause panic so you cough up personal information.
“My hope is that you will answer by ending the call,” Yost said.
The Federal Trade Commission reported that various Amazon impersonation scams — many involving claims that a consumer has ordered an expensive product or service — are filling phone lines throughout the country via illegal robocalls.
Once they get a person on the line, the “representative” asks for remote access to their cell phone or computer so they can issue a refund but, instead, the scammer gains access to the consumer’s personal identifying information.
In the low-tech variation of the scam, the rep asks people to buy gift cards in order to stop an unauthorized purchase.
Amazon’s guidelines, on its own website, make it clear that Amazon would never call a customer to seek personal information or discuss a refund that the customer isn’t already expecting.
The best way to defeat a scam artist is to hang up early and often, Yost said.
“Do not call back the number on your caller ID or the phone number mentioned in the message,” he said. “Instead, if you are concerned about the supposed purchase, contact the retailer using its legitimate phone number or email address. Customer service contact information can typically be found on the company’s website.”
If you see an unauthorized charge to your account, report it immediately to your credit card company.
“Never allow a stranger to remotely access your smartphone, tablet or computer,” Yost said. “If someone claims to need access, it’s a scam. Know that once you disclose a gift card’s PIN to someone, that person will be able to access the money on the card.”
To report a scam, contact the legitimate retailer through the contact information on its website and the Ohio Attorney General’s Help Center.
If you’ve fallen victim to a business impostor scam by disclosing personal identifying information, download the Ohio Attorney General’s ID Theft Basics publication and visit www.identitytheft.gov for help on how to proceed.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.