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Beware: Do not click on this text message from Amazon if you receive it

Amazon text scam

I was on a video chat a few days ago with someone who works at Facebook, and the conversation turned at one point to the various messaging alternatives to the social networking giant’s standalone Messenger app. He held up his iPhone and showed me his screen as he scrolled through a pretty long list of scammy text messages, many of them from Amazon purporting to announce things like a winning raffle award. I’ve already made my thoughts clear on this in previous posts — that whatever you want to say about the social network, a comparison of Messenger to something like iMessage is not even close when it comes to which one handles junk texts and scam texts better.

About those unwanted messages, we’d like to zero in on one kind of them — the now-pervasive Amazon scam texts, which have become such a problem that the Better Business Bureau has been inundated with hundreds of complaints from people about them. And Amazon has also filed what’s known as a John Doe lawsuit, where a matter is so urgent that you seek help from a court of law even before you know the identity of the perpetrator.

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So what are these scammy text messages that you should avoid and absolutely refrain from clicking on? If, for example, you receive a text message like the one in the tweet below that claims you’ve won something, be advised: You have won nothing. Because this is not real.

“Don’t click,” the BBB warns. “The text message is not from Amazon and it is the latest in a long list of impersonation scams that have been happening since the start of the pandemic, often using Amazon’s brand. The bogus raffle and suspicious link are part of a con used to trick people into visiting a phishing website, where they unwittingly share account credentials as well as personal and financial information with fraudsters.”

It’s not just Amazon, by the way, that hackers are trying to impersonate with these kinds of scam texts — but it’s mostly Amazon. In 2020, for example, 771 reports of such scams mentioned Amazon to the BBB. In fact, it was the second most-impersonated brand after the Social Security Administration, according to the BBB Scam Tracker.

Follow these tips from the bureau to keep from being swindled by these kinds of scam text messages:

  • Don’t believe every text you receive.
  • Know the signs of a text scam, like the promise of a reward and/or an unusual link.
  • Never click a link within a text message automatically.
  • Confirm the details.
  • You know those texts that instruct you to text back “STOP” or “NO”? Don’t do that. Block the text and report it as spam, instead. Sometimes, spammers are using that as a way to determine that, a-ha, this is an active phone number with a live person who I can now interact with.
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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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