Taking back the ID

Fake calls from Amazon and Apple, vaccine scams, strengthening passwords

Amazon and Apple aren’t calling you to warn you of suspicious activity. And vaccine scammers are here. Plus don’t get lax in concocting new passwords.

During the pandemic, Sam has been spending a lot of money on Amazon. Sometimes he loses track of what he’s ordered and when he’ll receive it. So, when he received a voicemail, supposedly from Amazon, he didn’t immediately delete it. The message said:

“An unauthorized purchase of an iPhone XR 64 gigabytes for $749 is being ordered from your Amazon account. To cancel your order or to connect with one of our customer support representatives please press 1 or simply stay on the line. Please press 1 to connect with our customer support team.”

Sam didn’t press 1, but unfortunately many have.

This is a fictitious case, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning real phone users not to respond to calls and voicemails purportedly from Amazon that say the company is charging you for an item you didn’t order, or is reporting your package is lost or it can’t fulfill your order.

The FTC is also warning about recorded messages supposedly from Apple that tell phone users it’s discovered suspicious activity or a breach in their iCloud accounts.

Of course, in this type of phone scam fraudsters typically use the names of well-known organizations to increase the validity of the messages and prompt the users to act.

The goal of both versions of the scam is to prompt you to give up personally identifiable information (PII), such as your account password or credit card number that the fraudsters can use to steal your identity.

The FTC advises:

  • Do not press 1 to speak with customer support.
  • Do not call a phone number they gave you.
  • Do not give out your personal information.
  • Contact the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov to report the scam.

(See Fake calls from Apple and Amazon support: What you need to know, by Alvaro Puig, Federal Trade Commission, Dec. 3, 2020.)

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