Amazon FBA Sellers: Be Wary Of These 6 Common Scams

Unfortunately, Amazon seller scams are something you have to watch out for when selling products online. With over $280 billion in sales in 2019, Amazon is the largest eCommerce site. It’s a great platform in terms of exposure, but it also attracts scammers.

It’s important to learn to recognize common scams you might encounter as a seller. It will be easier to protect yourself if you know what to watch out for.

Here are six common Amazon seller scams, and a few tips to avoid them.

Phishing

Did you know that 85% of businesses report that criminals have targeted them with phishing attacks? It’s one of the most common cybersecurity threats.

Phishing is a type of scam where a criminal attempts to steal your account credential. They can target your Amazon seller account or your bank account.

It’s easy to target Amazon sellers because you need to make sure shoppers can find your email address if they need to contact you. Scammers can use this information to send spoofed emails and ask you to follow a malicious link to enter your Amazon login credentials. They can then access your account and commit account takeover fraud, for instance, by changing the bank account where Amazon deposits your money.

The best way to protect yourself from phishing scams is to learn to recognize these emails. Here are a few things you should watch out for:

  • Phishing scams often create a sense of urgency, so you’ll follow the malicious link and enter your credentials right away. When targeting Amazon sellers, scammers might claim that you need to perform an action or Amazon will suspend your account.
  • Criminals often spoof financial institutions when creating phishing scams. If you get an email from your bank or the IRS asking you to follow a link, you’re more than likely dealing with a scam.
  • Pay attention to the sender’s address. In most cases, criminals create email addresses that look similar to the domains they attempt to spoof. There might be a few letters that are different.
  • The email itself can be a dead giveaway. The template might not look right, or the phrasing seems odd. If something feels off, you’re probably looking at a phishing attempt.
  • If you click on a spoofed link, the page will probably look off as well. The URL will be different from the legitimate website, and the template might look different.
  • As a rule of thumb, it’s best not to click on links when opening an email. If you have a doubt, you can always open a new browser window and visit your Amazon account or log into your bank account to see if there is a message or alert you need to review.

Account Takeover Fraud

While phishing is a common threat, it’s not the only way scammers can achieve account takeover fraud. As more people become aware of phishing scams and learn to recognize these malicious emails, criminals develop more sophisticated methods.

Spearphishing

Spearphishing is a more advanced version of phishing. Instead of sending a mass email, criminals take the time to craft messages that feel more personal. As a seller, you have to advertise online and it’s easy to find information about your activities. A criminal could use this information to create a message that feels legitimate, for instance, by mentioning a specific product you sell.

The same anti-phishing tips apply. Be aware that an email can still be malicious, even if it includes information that feels specific.

Social Engineering

Criminals are using sophisticated methods to impersonate people you would trust with your account information. They can, for instance, call you from a spoofed number and pretend to be a representative from Amazon.

Malware

Did you know that 94% of malware finds its way on computers via email? You probably know that it’s unwise to open attached files from recipients you don’t know, but criminals can also spread malware by hiding malicious code into the text of an email.

Malware can redirect you to a malicious web page when you attempt to log in to your Amazon account. A keylogger virus could record everything you type, including your Amazon seller credentials, and send this information to a criminal.

Your best option is to avoid opening emails you don’t trust. You should also use antivirus software on all your devices.

Stolen Credentials

In 2019, hackers exposed a total of 155 million records. It’s possible that your usernames and passwords are available somewhere on the dark web.

You can protect yourself by updating your passwords and security questions frequently. You should also use two-factor authentication.

Fraudulent Refunds

Amazon’s return policy makes returns easy. Unfortunately, some malicious agents take advantage of this policy to commit return fraud.

There are different schemes they can use:

  • Claiming the product never arrived.
  • Saying the product is defective.
  • Requesting a return for a product that is different from the listing.

The goal is usually to get a refund and to keep the product. It’s one of the most harmful Amazon seller scams but you can end up losing the sale and the product itself. Scammers can go through the Amazon refund process, or simply contact their bank or credit card company to ask for a chargeback. Experts believe that as much as 86% of all chargebacks could be a form of fraud!

Amazon’s refund policy can be challenging for sellers. If you don’t issue a refund within two business days, Amazon will review the case and make a decision.

There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from return fraud:

  • Consider using Amazon’s fulfillment services. Amazon will handle shipping and tracking. Besides, delivery drivers will snap a picture of the package once they deliver it. It’s difficult for scammers to claim they never received the product when Amazon has evidence that they delivered the package.
  • If you ship the products yourself, use a service that provides tracking and insurance. Keep detailed records of everything you send.
  • When possible, contact the shoppers who request a refund. Ask them to return the product instead of issuing a refund right away.
  • Keep in mind that some refunds are legitimate. You should update your listing with quality images and detailed descriptions. You should get fewer return requests from shoppers who received a product that differs from the listing, which should make scams easier to spot.
  • If you sell clothes, review sizing information on your listings! Sizing is a common reason for returning a product, and an accurate sizing chart can help reduce the number of returns you have to process.
  • Check your Amazon seller account every day and respond to refund requests fast. Don’t let the two business days go by because Amazon will often side with shoppers.
  • Keep records of every sale you make. Scammers who commit chargeback fraud often wait a few weeks before requesting the chargeback to confuse sellers. Contact your bank to dispute chargebacks if you suspect they’re fraudulent.

Return Fraud

Scammers can commit return fraud by purchasing an expensive item and replacing it with a different product. They can also return an empty box, send back an item with a similar weight, or return an incomplete product.

Amazon deals with a lot of returns. In fact, shoppers end up returning as much a 25% of all online purchases. Because the Amazon return department processes millions of returns, it’s easy for scammers to get away with returning a cheaper or different product.

  • Here’s how you can protect yourself from fraudulent returns:
  • Keep track of return requests. Shoppers have 45 days to return a product. If they miss this window, you can contact Amazon to get a reimbursement.
  • Communicate with buyers who request returns. Ask them to send you pics of the product. It will help you understand why legitimate shoppers aren’t satisfied with your products, and it might deter scammers who plan on making false claims about how the product doesn’t work or differs from the listing.
  • You can request to have returned items sent back to you for inspection. You can review the items and dispute a return if a scammer sent back a different item.

Review Scams

Not all Amazon sellers use ethical methods. Some of them can leverage reviews to hurt you. There are different schemes they can use:

  • Other sellers can spam your product pages with a large number of negative reviews. They can even purchase your product to get the ‘verified purchase’ stamp on these reviews.
  • They can turn Amazon’s strict policy against fake reviews by making it look like you created fake positive reviews on your listings to get these listings suspended.
  • They can game the system and click ‘helpful’ on the few negative reviews you have to make them more prominent.

Protecting yourself from these scams isn’t easy. You should keep an eye on the reviews your listings get. Beware of short reviews, reviews posted on the same date, and reviews that sound very generic. You can also use your sales records to see if the number of reviews you get is consistent with your sales.

If you notice anything suspicious, your best bet is to contact Amazon seller support. You can also make it more difficult to leverage fake reviews by sending a thank you email to shoppers and asking them to leave a review. That way, you’ll get more legitimate reviews, and it will be harder for unethical sellers to manipulate reviews.

Suspended Listing Scams

Competitors can hurt you by reporting one of your listings. They can buy one of your products, issue a complaint, and report the listing. They can, for instance, claim that the product is fake or defective.

Amazon will take your listing down until they review it. Your listing will be back online if the claim is fraudulent, but you will miss out on some sales. This technique could be costly if a scammer reports your most successful listing during the holidays.

Review Amazon’s policies and make sure your listings meet all the requirements to make the review process faster. You should also prepare yourself for going through the appeal process to get your listing reinstated if Amazon decides to take it down.

Keep all the invoices from your supplier as well as the contact information of your supplier. If a scammer claims that you’re selling fake products, you’ll be able to get your listing reinstated by providing this documentation from your supplier.

If a scammer claims that you’re selling defective products or aren’t providing adequate customer service, your best option is to prove that you always take the necessary steps for fixing problems. Document all the refunds and returns you issue. Keep track of all the complaints you address.

Getting your listing reinstated can be difficult if Amazon decides that there is an issue with it, but you can do it by communicating with Amazon seller support and providing all the documentation Amazon requests.

Final Thoughts

You can protect yourself from Amazon seller scams by learning to recognize common red flags. The following tips will help you stay safe:

You should report phishing attempts to Amazon. Amazon has an email address where you can send reports of spoofed emails and web pages, as well as suspicious phone calls.

Your email provider should have a feature for reporting and blocking malicious senders. Use it!

Establish a strong track record of providing excellent customer service. It will go a long way in helping Amazon make the right decision if you ever have to escalate an issue.

Keep records of everything. You need to find a system to keep track of sales, shipping, tracking, returns, and refunds. You should also keep track of what you buy from suppliers. These documents will help you prove that you fulfilled your part of the bargain if a scammer claims you didn’t send the product or sent the wrong product.

 Amazon is a great place to sell your products, but you should be aware of the scams that exist on this popular platform. You can reduce risks by knowing what to watch out for and familiarizing yourself with Amazon’s policies for things like appealing decisions or processing refunds and returns.