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  • Geebo 8:22 am on April 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , , ,   

    Some sites slow to pull bad COVID products 

    Some sites slow to pull bad COVID products

    As we have mentioned before, the current pandemic has been a boom period for all sorts of con artists and scammers. The scams started even before coronavirus even started claiming all the headlines. Even before stay at home orders were issued, scammers were already online selling masks that didn’t exist or harmful snake oil cures. Even with all that we currently know about COVID-19 these scams are continuing unabated. Now, these scams even have an air of legitimacy as many of them are appearing on legitimate commerce sites. The problem is that these commerce sites are slow to pull any dangerous or false products if they even pull them at all.

    A tech company by the name of Proxyway performed an investigation into several e-commerce sites that were selling harmful products that either claimed to test for or cure COVID-19. These dangerous products were reviewed by medical professionals to determine how harmful they were. The sites that Proxyway investigated were Alibaba, AliExpress, Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay. Alibaba and Craigslist would take up to a week before the hazardous products were removed. eBay would take an average of three days while Amazon would take an average of two. While two and three days may seem like a short time, any number of people could have ordered these risky products from what they might assume are legitimate retailers.

    While sites like Amazon and eBay employ reviewers to look out for unsafe products they’re still not infallible. Craigslist is worse since it relies on community policing which has bitten craigslist in the past. Just because something is on a website, no matter how legitimate the website might be, you can’t assume the product is safe, especially when it comes to COVD-19.

    As of the time of this posting, there are no cures for COVID-19 and there are no commercially available home testing kits.

    For all valid information about COVID-19 please visit Coronavirus.gov.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , ,   

    Are counterfeits on Amazon a problem? 

    Are counterfeits on Amazon a problem?

    The other day, we posted about several scams that are targeting Amazon shoppers. The scams we mentioned all take place outside of Amazon. That’s not to say that there aren’t scams happening within Amazon. While Amazon is not directly responsible for this particular scam, they are said to be taking measures to combat the problem. What we’re talking about is counterfeits of brand name goods that are being sold through third-party vendors on Amazon. This isn’t the first problem Amazon has had with its third-party stores. Previously, there was an issue of some third-party vendors selling items that had been thrown in the trash.

    Fox Business is reporting that Amazon is getting more serious about cracking down on cheap knock-offs of name brands being sold on their platform. These counterfeits have come at a cost for Amazon as some name brands have refused to sell their products on Amazon because of the number of counterfeits being sold. Many of these counterfeits include such brands as Apple, Nike, Under Armour and Sony. Amazon has even faced a number of lawsuits over the number of counterfeits being sold. Since then Amazon has launched a number of programs to help rod their platform of counterfeits and have even enlisted the help of some well-known name brands.

    So what can we as consumers do to avoid buying counterfeits? When shopping on Amazon be aware of prices that are too low for the product in question. Read the Amazon reviews of the seller to see if they have a reputation for selling knock-offs. Be wary of pictures on the item page that are blurry or ill-defined. And if the seller wants you to contact them before you purchase the item, not only could it be a counterfeit product but it could potentially be a scam as well.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , , ,   

    Scams that use the Amazon name 

    Scams that use the Amazon name

    Over the weekend, a number of reports came out independent from each other that detailed separate scams that are using Amazon’s name and logo to fool victims into handing over personal or financial information.

    In the first scam, scammers are sending out emails with the official Amazon logo attached to them. The email thanks you for purchasing an Amazon e-gift card. The email then says that if you didn’t purchase the e-gift card to click a link to cancel the purchase or receive a refund. This is a phishing attack that will lead you to a website that is not Amazon where the scammers will try to get you to input personal or financial information in order to get your ‘refund’. In one instance, a victim was asked to buy Amazon gift cards from a local retailer to fix the problem. If you ever receive an email like this you should never click on any links. Instead, go straight to the retailer’s website to check your account.

    The second scam was reported as happening in the Pacific Northwest. In it, the scammers are sending consumers letters stating that their Amazon purchase didn’t go through. What’s troubling about this scam is that the scammers have gained access to information that allows them to know what you purchased from Amazon and how much you paid for it. The letter instructs you to go to a website in order to but again, asks you to input personal and financial information. It’s unknown how scammers have gotten the purchase information so if you receive one of these letters, it’s recommended that you change the password to your Amazon account.

    In the last scam, if you’re thinking about signing up for Amazon Prime or you have a technical issue with Prime, be careful of what links you click on after a web search. In some cases, if you do a web search for ‘Amazon Prime’ or ‘Amazon Prime customer support’ you may be presented with ads that take you to third-party sites that are definitely nor Amazon. In other cases, these ads will list a phony customer service number for Amazon Prime. Security researchers have stated that these ads will take you to sites that will try to get you to pay for services that would be free if performed by amazon. This is also known as the tech support scam. Again, if you have customer service needs that Amazon needs to address, go to Amazon.com in order to find the correct information.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, dumspter diving, , trash, Wall Street Journal   

    Are your Amazon shipments delivered from the dumpster? 

    Are your Amazon shipments delivered from the dumpster?

    An untold number of people have probably ordered their Christmas presents from Amazon this year. However, did you know that not all the products on Amazon are actually sold by Amazon? Around half of all the products sold on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers. Some of these sellers are well-known companies who see Amazon as an additional venue for their products. Some sellers are operating out of their home. While many of these home sellers are offering products that have nothing wrong with them, some sellers have procured their stock through less than ethical means.

    Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an expose detailing how there are many Amazon sellers who source their stock by digging through trash. Many of these so-called dumpster divers raid the trash bins of known retailers to claim whatever products they can clean up and sell on Amazon. These can often include food and medicinal items. The WSJ was able to find items in the dumpster of a Trader Joe’s which they cleaned up and listed for sale on Amazon. They also quickly bought the items themselves to make sure no consumers bought the items. The orders went through as if the items were brand new.

    The problem with this practice besides the obvious sanitation issue is that since Amazon does all the shipping with its branded packaging it appears like these items are coming from Amazon directly. Some of the vendors even list these reclaimed products as new. After the WSJ published their report, Amazon said that they have changed their policy about items that have come from the trash. However, what kind of oversight is going into this new policy? How will Amazon be able to detect if third-party vendors are selling items taken from the trash?

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , ,   

    Is your Ring doorbell at risk of attack? 

    Is your Ring doorbell at risk of attack?

    Ring Doorbells have become very popular over the past few years. Not only does it offer the convenience of knowing who’s at your door while you’re not home, but it also records any interaction that occurs at your front door. With the assistance of Ring Doorbells, all sorts of interlopers have been caught ranging from porch pirates to home intruders. They’ve become so popular and ubiquitous that police stations around the country are recommending residents install one and become part of a police network of cameras. So, it should come as no surprise that bad actors may want access to your camera.

    Amazon, owners of Ring, recently announced that there was a vulnerability in Ring Doorbells that could have exposed your wifi password to attackers. During the authentication process, the communication between your doorbell and the was unencrypted leaving your wifi password open in plain text and potentially available to hackers. While any attack wouldn’t be able to control the camera itself, once your home wifi is vulnerable an attacker could compromise any number of systems especially if you have a number of smart home or internet of things (IoT) devices.

    Thankfully, Amazon patched this vulnerability before they made it public knowledge. That’s not even taking into account that any attack against the doorbell would have to happen at the precise moment of authentication and the attacker would need to be in range of your home wifi. The chances of a hacker being on your property at the time of authentication are very slim. However, this does show that no smart home or internet-enabled security device is foolproof. When purchasing such a device, do your research in finding out which ones are the most secure and which ones receive regular updates from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you could be as secure as leaving your front door unlocked.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , ,   

    Be careful of random packages at your doorstep 

    Be careful of random packages at your doorstep

    Today, we’re bringing you a handful of scams from around the country. Remember, just because they may not be happening in your town doesn’t mean they can’t.

    Our first story is out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where unrequested packages have been showing up at random homes. Scammers are allegedly using stolen information to have high-end items like smartphones sent to random houses. The scammers then keep an eye on the homes where the items are to be delivered so they can pick them up. While this was a good attempt by the scammers to cover their tracks, two men have been arrested for their alleged part in the scheme. A good way to help protect yourself against this is to sign up for the US Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service.

    Speaking of unwanted packages, we’ve discussed the brushing scam before. It’s where you’ll receive a number of packages from a retailer like Amazon that you didn’t order. By law, you can keep those packages, however, they’re being sent by third-party vendors from overseas who are looking to use your information to post positive reviews of their products with your name listed as a verified purchaser. It’s gotten so bad for one man in Charlotte, North Carolinas that he says he’s been receiving nearly 30 packages a week since July. If this happens to you, your amazon account may have been compromised. It’s recommended that in this case that you change your Amazon password and check your account for illegitimate purchases.

    Lastly, the state of Texas is warning its residents about a potential insurance scam. The Texas Department of Insurance is reporting that a group claiming to be the Consumer Insurance Association is offering discounted insurance rates over the phone. This group is not licensed in the state of Texas and could be part of an identity theft operation. Never just give out your personal information over the phone to anybody who cold calls you. If you feel like they may be a legitimate company, research them first before divulging any sensitive information.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, cash, , Western Union   

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you 

    Amazon accepts cash: What this means for you

    In many ways, we are moving to a cashless society. Whether it’s payment apps like Venmo or cashless banking in general, many consumers no longer carry cash on them. While this is an inevitable outcome with the march of modern technology it does have the consequence of alienating those in our country who may not have access to banking. That’s why it came as a surprise that the nation’s largest online retailer has started to accept cash as a form of payment.

    Amazon has partnered with Western Union to start accepting cash payments for goods sold on Amazon. It works by the customer being issued a QR code once they indicate their intent to pay by cash. The customer can then go to any Western Union outlet, show them the QR code and then pay Amazon with cash. This is somewhat a shocking turn of events for Amazon as previously they wanted to go cash only in their mostly automated Amazon Go stores.

    While this opens up a whole new market for Amazon there is a potential downside to this new enterprise. The first is that many Western Union outlets are in the brick and mortar locations of some of Amazon’s competitors. This could lead to these competitors no longer doing business with Amazon which in turn would leave less Western Union outlets which many consumers depend on. The other problem is that we can already see the potential for this service being abused by scammers. One example is when scammers try to get you to pay for something using gift cards. Now, they could possibly use the Amazon QR codes instead of gift cards for their scams.

    While this is great for those who live on a cash-only basis, they should always be on the lookout for the potential pitfalls of such a service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, ,   

    When free stuff from Amazon isn’t free 

    When free stuff from amazon isn't free

    We’ve briefly touched upon the brushing scam before. In the brushing scam, a third-party amazon vendor will send you items for free that you didn’t actually order. Legally, you’re allowed to keep anything that you didn’t order. Sounds like a good deal right? Who doesn’t want to get free stuff? As with most things that sound too good to be true, there is a more deceitful plot at hand. A plot that could cost you money and your privacy in the long run.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, if you’re receiving these packages it’s more than likely that your Amazon account has been compromised. These third-party vendors are usually from overseas and are sending you the packages to make it look like you’re a verified purchaser. This way the vendors can post positive reviews of their product on Amazon in your name. This is intended to gain a higher ranking on Amazon which in turn is supposed to lead to more sales. Just think of the amount of information contained in your Amazon account. Not only is your home address listed within, but your payment information as well. These supposedly free items could be costing you without you even noticing it at first.

    So, what should you do if you start receiving these unsolicited deliveries? The first thing you should do is immediately change the password on your Amazon account. Since the scammers may have also compromised your email account you may want to consider changing the email address attached to your Amazon account also. These deliveries should also be reported to Amazon itself so they can take down any fake reviews in your name which is against their policy. If any of your debit or credit cards have been used in this scam you’ll want to cancel them and have new ones issued. The only consolation to the victim of this scam is that they can legally keep the items sent to them, however, they’re usually not the type of items you’d normally want to keep.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , Realogy, , TurnKey   

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house? 

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house?

    Having a ‘smart’ home has been a craze for tech’s early adopters for some time now. Whether it’s smart lights that can operate on voice command or thermostats that can be operated remotely, the number of gadgets that can be installed in your home seem to be in a never-ending supply. However, it seems that a near-monopoly has been created in the smart home market with either Google or Amazon buying up most of the startups that initially gave rise to the modern smart home idea. Now one of those companies wants to help you buy a house with their devices already built in.

    Amazon has teamed with realtors Realogy to help you get into a new home and not one of the prefab tiny homes you can order on Amazon. The reason this partnership has been made was for Amazon to get you integrated into Amazon’s smart home ecosystem. For example, if you purchase a home worth $700,000 or more you’ll receive $5,000 in Amazon smart devices and services. This includes Ring doorbells, Amazon Echos, among other Amazon-related smart home gear and services. This program, called TurnKey, has launched in 15 major cities including San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and Chicago just to name a few.

    Of course, there are drawbacks to owning such a home. The first concern is privacy. Amazon has courted controversy with its almost always-listening Echo devices. Reportedly, Echo devices not only record your voice but keep it stored in Amazon’s cloud servers indefinitely. The second concern is obsolescence. While these devices and services may seem like a convenience now, what if Amazon decided for whatever reason to stop supporting these devices. The majority of these devices rely on Amazon hosting these services in the cloud. If Amazon decides to pull the plug one day, you’d be left with a bunch of defunct gadgets in need of immediate replacement. More immediately, what if Amazon has any downtime on these services? If these services go down nationally that could potentially make your home a target as we’re sure any kind of outage like that would make national news.

    While the allure of free Amazon devices may seem like a strong one, you may want to weigh your options before giving into it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , ,   

    Amazon workers need consumers to support strike! 

    Amazon workers need consumers to support strike!

    Right now, Amazon is having its annual mid-year sale known as Prime Day. This year, the sales are taking place over two days with today being the last. Prime Day is only second to Black Friday in terms of purchases made online. Prime Day has gotten so huge that even other retailers are trying to get in on the action. Since this is one of Amazon’s busiest times of the year it should come as no surprise that Amazon workers are probably working extra hours and possibly even extra shifts to get all the merchandise delivered in a timely manner. However, a number of Amazon employees used Prime Day as an opportune time to protest working conditions in the Amazon fulfillment centers.

    Amazon employees from around the globe took to the picket lines to protest what they consider to be problematic working conditions. In Europe, many of Amazon’s employees are unionized but here in the US, they are not. That didn’t stop several Amazon employees from protesting in Shakopee, Minnesota. The protesters believe that they are expected to reach unobtainable production goals at the cost of their health and well being.

    If Amazon was to decrease the demands of their workers that would affect the overall shipping process. Instead of being able to receive a package in two days it might be four or five days instead. Would consumers who are already used to Amazon’s quick delivery be willing to give up such convenience? In order to really send a message to Amazon, the protesters would really need to get a rather large amount of Amazon’s consumers on their side. Without the support of consumers voting with their wallets, we might not see working conditions improve for Amazon fulfillment center employees. Short of government intervention, which seems unlikely at this point, consumer persuasion is probably the only way Amazon will change.

     
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