Amazon customer service scam targets your financial data

Last Updated Feb 20, 2018 1:16 PM EST

If you've got a problem with an (AMZN) order and need to reach customer support, you're just the kind of person criminals are eager to speak to. 

A recent scam targets customers who want to get an Amazon customer service representative on the phone. The fraudsters are posting fake Amazon service numbers that show up in online searches, according to Krebs on Security. When the victim calls the number, the scammer picks up and asks for detailed personal information such as bank account and credit card information. 

It's no surprise that scammers are focusing, the biggest online retailer, and its customers. Yet the customer support scam targets customers at a point when they may be more willing to hand over sensitive data, in the hope they'll receive a refund for their Amazon Prime service or merchandise. 

So how can customers avoid falling for this con? For one, chatting with an Amazon customer service rep through its site guarantees you are reaching an employee. Secondly, make sure you call Amazon's actual customer support number, 1 (888) 280-4331.

"Whenever we become aware of actions like the ones you describe, we take steps to stop them," Amazon said in an emailed statement. "If you're concerned about your account, please contact Amazon customer service immediately using the help section on our website."

Other Amazon-related scams have emerged recently, including an international online retail scam. In that case, one couple was surprised to receive unordered packages from Amazon. It had neither a return address or an order number, which meant the couple couldn't return it. 

This scam is called "brushing," where an online seller purchases their own product and ships it to a real address. Then the seller writes a fake review while posing as the buyer. The goal? To present glowing reviews from "genuine" shoppers in an effort to game the system and push their products to the top of Amazon's pages. 

Amazon has battled fake reviews for years, with mixed success. As with any retail experience, consumers should view the reviews with a "caveat emptor" attitude and keep an eye out for fraudulent reviews. Experts say a lack of genuineness in tone, such as being over-the-top in praising a given product, can be a tip off. 

"We are investigating inquiries from consumers who have received unsolicited packages as this would violate our policies," the spokesperson said. "We have confirmed the sellers involved did not receive names or shipping addresses from Amazon. We remove sellers in violation of our policies, withhold payments, and work with law enforcement to take appropriate action."