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Alerts about 'suspicious activity' surge, as crooks impersonate Amazon

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

Now scammers are trying to warn you of possible fraud on your account to make you so nervous that you don't think twice about what you're doing next.

We're seeing an uptick in texts and phone calls from scammers alerting us to suspicious activity. Some are pretending to be from the Amazon fraud department. Others follow a similar M.O. with dubious fraud alerts by impersonating big names, including banks such as Chase and government agencies such as the Social Security Administration.

Everything is portrayed as something terribly "urgent." Some text messages warn you that your account has been locked or restricted due to unusual activity and you may be told, wrongly, that you need need to click on a link to fix the problem.

Others may claim that you need to verify that a $500 purchase was made on your card for something or another.

Some robocalls tell you to "Press 1" to report a phony charge often claimed to be $729 or $1,499.

Every text message you get isn't real

 

Our first automatic reaction, of course, is to rush to try to make sure that no one is stealing money out of our accounts or using our charge cards.

Unfortunately, moving quickly is the wrong response. We need to take a breath and train ourselves to carefully examine who might really be texting, emailing or calling us.

While you might somehow think that every text or warning you get has to be legitimate, it isn't.

"These scams work because they target routine human behaviors and prey on consumers’ fears that a problem has surfaced," said Brian K. Payne, director of the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation.

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