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Target, Amazon and holiday scams

Posted by Mitch Lipka  December 24, 2013 01:31 PM

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a.com_logo_RGB.jpgIt’s holiday time, and that means more scams. Ho, ho, ho.

If you ever order from Amazon.com, as millions of folks do, getting a confirmation email is pretty standard fare. And there’s no time of the year when more of those emails go flying into inboxes.

So, it stands to reason it’s also the best time of year to scam people with fake Amazon confirmation emails. The emails look pretty much the same as the real ones, but they’ll typically leave out your name and the specifics of your order – which are standard in legitimate confirmation emails.

These emails are phishing scams. They are launched to get the victims to reveal personal information. They may ask recipients to click on a link to get them to unwittingly download a program intended to collect private information from their computers.

While using Amazon’s name is a popular ruse for this sort of scam, it’s hardly the only company whose name and logo has been appropriated for no good.

How many people have gotten emails from UPS, FedEx or similar companies about some package that supposedly needs to be redelivered? Same scam, different angle.

And now, with the Target data breach there will be even more phishing attacks aimed at concerned customers. Target says it will start posting all emails it sends out so consumers can verify whether they have received a legitimate email from the retailer.

There are some easy ways to spot these, if you take a second or two. The emails are often addressed to multiple recipients. That’s an instant red flag. And the sender’s address – the part after the @ -- will be from an address other than the company that supposedly sent it. Instead of the email reading, say, the legitimate ship-confirm@amazon.com it might say something like “amazonorders@xxx.com.”

Legitimate sellers and delivery companies won’t ask for personal or financial information, or to download an attachment. As tempting as it might be, don’t click on links in emails purporting to be from businesses. If you’re curious about some claim or request, go to the website of that company that supposedly sent the email and log into your account to check.

Scammers take advantage of our distraction and high volume of shopping around the holidays. If you can recognize the warning signs of these scams, you’ll avoid these Grinches and the trouble that comes from being victimized.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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