Prime Day deal sound too good to be true? It probably is, watchdog warns

·2 min read

Amazon Prime Day is in full swing, which means deep discounts for online shoppers — but with it comes an increased risk of scammers trying trick people out of cash, a watchdog group warns.

The Better Business Bureau says phony ads and phishing scams aren’t uncommon during major shopping events like Amazon Prime Day, and this year is no different. The consumer watchdog group is urging consumers to be wary of false advertisements and scam sites as they scour online retailers for the best deals.

Big box stores including Target, Walmart and Best Buy are running similar sales to compete for business. But not all deals may be legit.

“If a company claims to be selling the hottest item of the year at a super low price, it’s probably a con,” according to the BBB’s website.

Some “deals” may appear to come from a reputable retailer, experts say. Con artists can create lookalike websites, but a closer look at the URL will likely reveal a similar domain name with extra letters or words.

Before adding to your cart, shoppers should also check that a business’ name is spelled correctly and that legitimate contact information is listed online.

Unsolicited calls, texts or emails from Amazon or another retailer are also a red flag, the BBB warns. The messages may say there’s a “free gift” waiting to be claimed or that there’s an issue with shipping — “all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information.”

Don’t fall for it, experts say.

Fraudsters use this trick to gain access to credit card information, login credentials and other sensitive information. One person reported being conned out of $400 after getting a call from “Amazon” about an issue with their Prime Video account, according to the BBB’s Scam Tracker.

“[The scammer] told me my account had been used by someone in California in the amount of $155.99 in 6 separate transactions!” the person wrote. “When I explained that I didn’t have a debit card for him to refund the money, he asked me to (buy) ... 4 Google Play [gift] cards that they would convert and then send to my credit card. I did this and was told a $1200 refund would be added to my account!! Nothing appeared ...”

To avoid getting scammed on Prime Day, the BBB also recommends:

  • Using a credit card, not a debit card, to make online purchases. Buying via digital wallet apps like Venmo or using prepaid money cards should also be avoided.

  • Be sure a website is secure before entering sensitive information. Secure sites have “https” in the URL and a lock icon in the web address bar.

  • Be careful buying high-demand products/items that are sold out everywhere else.

Amazon Prime Day begins June 21 and ends at 2:59 a.m. EST on June 23.

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