7 On Your Side: How to foil a holiday shopping scam

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There is a new warning about two scams targeting customers of the largest internet retailer in the world -- Amazon.

With just a few keystrokes, you can accidentally let a criminal into your account or give him or her a gift card.

Even the most trained cyber security eyes admit the scam could squeak by them, so for the rest of us, forget it. We are easy prey, because we are always asked to confirm, or change, revise payment or shipping.

And for Amazon users, especially, your user-name and password are the keys to your kingdom because your credit or debit cards are already linked.

Exhibit A is a legit-looking FedEx email warning that a recent Amazon order is delayed and directing the recipient to click on the Amazon.com hyperlink. But beware, it's fake FedEx signing you in to a scam.

The link that pops up looks just like the real Amazon sign in, and side-by-side, there's no telling them apart. But when you fill out the fake one, you've given a criminal your credentials.

"Suddenly, someone's doing transactions you didn't authorize and are into your bank account," warned Adam Levin, founder of IDT911.

Levin's advice is to always go to the site directly, not through a link emailed or texted. Also, never call the 800 number on a suspicious link, because that's phony too.

"Even if they give you the number, look at the number on your credit card or on customer service call," he said. "And ask to speak to the fraud department."

One way tell if a link is phony is to check if it's an HTTP site vs. an HTTPS site. The S is for secure, like the real Amazon site.

Amazon is also warning customers about a new, super sneaky scam involving gift cards. Scammers masquerading as third-party sellers will notify you that the best way to deal with them is to purchase an Amazon gift card and forward them the code. But they end up with your money without ever getting the product.

Cyber Grinches are also crawling all over gift cards, scratching off the backs of cards stealing the codes, then waiting until you load them up to drain them. Levin advises checking for scratched codes, always buying gifts cards kept behind the counter instead, and avoid apps that aren't from a recognized app store.

The big takeaway is to foil scammers by checking your accounts frequently for charges that aren't yours, and sign up for alerts so you know when your cards are being used. And use credit, not debit, when shopping online. You'll have more protections if you are a victim of fraud.
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