COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
As shoppers ramp up their holiday season shopping, they need to stay alert of scammers.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is warning shoppers that illegal robocalls claiming to be from Amazon, Apple, or PayPal will steal their money.
Most of the time, the scammers will call and say they want to help fix the situation that a large purchase was made on the shopper’s credit card.
“Legitimate companies don’t do business this way, so just hang up,” Yost said. “These impostors want to get you on the line and cause panic, so you cough up personal information. My hope is that you will answer by ending the call.”
In the early fall, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made consumers aware of how popular the Amazon impersonation scam is. Many of these phone calls include claims that a consumer has ordered an expensive item.
The fake representative will ask the shopper for remote access to their device so they can receive a “refund.” Once the phony representative receives remote access, they will steal the consumer’s personal information.
Amazon’s website ensures that Amazon would not call their shoppers asking for personal information or to talk about a potential refund that the customer is not entitled to or expecting.
To combat the scammers during the holiday shopping season, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office is offering these tips to help:
- Hang up if you receive a cold call from someone claiming that you have purchased an item from Amazon or another popular online retailer. Do not call back the number on your caller ID or the phone number mentioned in the message. Instead, if you are concerned about the supposed purchase, contact the retailer using its legitimate phone number or email address. Customer service contact information can typically be found on the company’s website.
- Carefully examine the details of your online account purchases and credit card bills for any unauthorized charges. If you see an unauthorized charge, report it immediately to your credit card company.
- Never allow a stranger to remotely access your smartphone, tablet or computer. If the caller claims to need remote access to process a refund, it’s a scam.
- Be highly suspicious of requests from a stranger to buy gift cards as payment for any product or service as part of a “refund” process or to allegedly help stop fraud from a third party. Know that once you disclose a gift card’s PIN to someone, that person will be able to access the money on the card.
To report a scam, contact the legitimate retailer through the contact information on its website and the Ohio Attorney General’s Help Center.
If you’ve fallen victim to a business impostor scam by disclosing personal identifying information, download the Ohio Attorney General’s ID Theft Basics publication and visit www.identitytheft.gov for help on how to proceed.
Those affected by this scam or any other deceptive/unfair sales practice are encouraged to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.