Newest Scam Alert: Callers Impersonate Amazon Customer Support
NEW YORK - Spam phone calls have become a way of life for many Americans; according to reports, in 2018 alone US citizens received a staggering total of 26.3 billion unsolicited phone calls – both legitimate and illegitimate – from various groups, organizations, and individuals. Shockingly, that number is 80 times greater than the entire population of our country, and the problem has become so severe that the Federal Communications and Trade Commissions reported spam calls as the number one consumer complaint they receive on an annual basis.
Washington state, home of e-commerce giant Amazon, reports that its residents have received over 200,000,000 spam calls in the first quarter of 2019; this represents a nearly 55 percent increase from the same period of time in 2018. The irony of this occurring in Amazon's backyard is that the retail company is now the subject of a new con that phone scammers are perpetrating, as widely reported by Washington consumers this year.
The new Amazon scam is simple yet effective, the hallmark of any successful scheme that seeks to separate hard working people from their money. People pretending to be customer service agents are contacting Amazon customers and reporting that they are the victim of potentially fraudulent login activity on their accounts. The solution they offer is to assist them in resetting their accounts by directing them to a made-up website where the customers are then prompted to enter their Amazon login information. This, of course, gives the con artist free and open access to the victim’s Amazon account and any personal information stored within; this can run from addresses and phone numbers to credit card numbers and bank account details, all of which can be used to turn an unsuspecting victim’s life into a financial shambles.
Unfortunately, Washington State seems to be the epicenter of technology-related cons and rackets that involve unscrupulous individuals representing themselves as organizations and entities in order to fulfill some horrific get-rich-quick scheme at the expense of others. For example, customers of Seattle City Light have been recently receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be representatives of the utility company, who “threaten” to have the customer’s power shut off unless they immediately submit a payment to a “private” account. Obviously, that payment is not going to Seattle City Light, but instead into the coffers of a scammer. This goes along with all the usual scam phone calls that people have to contend with these days, such as people masquerading as IRS or Social Security agents, which are some of the most ubiquitous scams going at the moment.
Of course, Washington State isn't the lone victim; scam phone calls are a nationwide menace, with the Amazon ruse spreading out across the country; reports of the scam care now coming in from cities all the way to the eastern seaboard, shockingly.
These phone scams are providing massive problems for companies and local governments, with lawmakers scrambling to develop legislation that will catch up with technology and address these issues, as well as businesses curtailing their outreach to customers for fear of being mistaken as scammers themselves. The Federal Communications Commission plans on rolling out a series of new regulations – backed by heavy fines – in order to address the issue, and Congress is mulling over bills that would require telecom companies to adopt new and strict authentication protocols in order to help provide a relief to consumers from the never-ending series of spam calls they have to endure on a near-daily basis.
But in the meantime, your most important tool against phone spammers is merely common sense. It's rare that any company or government organization to contact you via the telephone about money owned or an alleged security breach. If you ever receive a phone call from out of the blue from anyone claiming to be any organization for whatever reason, a wise move is to always question it. Never agree to send anything to any individual who calls you – especially money or personal information – and instead hang up and contact the company they claim to have represented to confirm things for yourself. More often than not, you'll find that you were nearly the victim of a scammer; again, with a little common sense, you'll find that they aren’t that difficult to outwit after all.