Ohio Attorney General warns of scammers posing as retailers ahead of holiday shopping

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is warning people against scammers and robocallers posing as retailers and major companies as Ohioans start their holiday shopping.

Scammers may call posing as Amazon, Apple, PayPal or another retailer claiming they want to help after large purchase was made to your 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.”

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According to the Federal Trade Commission one in three people who reported a business impersonator from July 2020 through June 2021 said the scammers claimed to be from Amazon. Of the 273,000 who reported business impersonators, 35% were posing as Amazon and 6% claimed to be Apple.

The scammers claim there’s suspicious activity or unauthorized purchases on your account. Once you call the number, a person claiming to be a representative will try to convince you into giving them remote access to your phone or computer to fix the problem and issued a refund. Scammers will then claim to have refunded too much money and tell you to return the difference. Some scam victims reported people posing as Amazon workers begged them for help and claimed Amazon would fire them if the money wasn’t returned, according to the FTC.

In other scams, the impersonators will gain access to your online banking and move money from one account to another to trick the victim into thinking it’s a refund. Sometimes scammers will ask you to buy gift cards and send pictures of the numbers on the back or claim you won a raffle and you need to provide your credit card information to pay for shipping.

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To avoid being ripped off, Yost advised the following:

  • Hang up if you receive a cold call from someone claiming you bought an item from Amazon or another online retailer. Do not call back the number on your caller ID or the number mentioned in a message. If you’re concerned about your account or supposed purchase, call the retailer using its legitimate phone number or address. Check the retailer’s website for any customer service contact information.
  • Carefully check your online accounts and credit card bills for any unauthorized charges. Report any unauthorized charges immediately to your credit card company.
  • Never allow a stranger remote access to your smartphone, tablet or computer. If a caller claims they need remote access to issue a refund, it’s a scam.
  • Be suspicious of requested to buy gift cards as payment for a product or service as part of a refund process. Once you disclose a git card’s pin to someone they will be able to access the money on the card.

To report a scam, visit the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s website. Those who are victims of a scam or business impersonator can visit www.identitytheft.gov to figure out how to proceed.

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