FTC warns about ‘Amazon impersonators’ ahead of holiday shopping season

As the holiday shopping season nears, the Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans about a scam involving impersonators pretending they work for Amazon. 

The commission said the scams can manifest in different ways.
In one scenario, Acting Associate Director Maria Mayo said scammers can contact you to offer a "refund" for an unauthorized purchase but "accidentally transfer" more than promised. 

They then ask for you to send back the difference. 

Mayo said, behind the scenes, the scammer moves your own money from one of your bank accounts to the other (like your Savings to Checkings, or vice versa) to make it look like you were refunded so, any money you send back to Amazon is actually your money from your own account. 

RELATED: Major retailer warns of shopping scams during holiday season

Another scenario involves being told that hackers got access to your account and the only way to protect it is to buy gift cards and share the gift card number and PIN on the back. Mayo said once that information is theirs, the money is too.

Mayo offers ways people can avoid scams such as:

  • Never call back an unknown number. Instead, find the number on Amazon’s website and not a number listed in an unexpected email or text.
  • Don’t pay for anything with a gift card as gift cards are for gifts. Mayo says if anyone asks you to pay with a gift card – or buy gift cards for anything other than a gift, it’s a scam.
  • Don’t give remote access to someone who contacts you unexpectedly. This gives scammers easy access to your personal and financial information—like access to your bank accounts.

They also ask people to report scams to the FTC

RELATED: FBI issues warning about holiday scams

In 2020, the U.S. saw a 427% increase in delivery and shipping-related scams amid Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to data from cybersecurity firm Check Point Research.

Amazon was the most impersonated brand in the U.S.; 65% of fake delivery emails came from bad actors posing as Amazon, Check Point found.

The company said some Amazon departments may call customers, but they will never ask for personal information or offer an unexpected refund. Also, the company will never send an unsolicited message trying to get this information. Additionally, Amazon will not ask for you to make payments outside of the website nor ask for remote access to your computer.

Also, you can report Amazon scams to the company here.

FOX Business and FOX 2 Detroit contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.