Experts warning consumers of phishing messages ahead of Amazon Prime Day

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- One of the biggest online shopping events of the year—Amazon Prime Day—is less than 24 hours away.

As consumers await packages, experts are warning people not to fall victim to alerts phishing for personal information.

The Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission are calling fake text messages popular delivery scams. The messages are seemingly real—sometimes even referencing a consumer directly by name—and appear to come from a delivery service such as USPS or FedEx. When a person clicks on the link within the message, it becomes a trick to get people to give up personal information, according to University of Notre Dame Professor Aaron Striegel.

“What we’re seeing is the sort of online thieves are becoming a bit more savvy, they recognize that most of us are doing some sort of online shopping and that means a lot of us are getting packages,” Striegel said.

The directed link generally leads to either a fake website phishing for a username and password or even prompts consumers to enter billing information, according to Striegel.

As most consumers have shifted to online shopping during the pandemic, it is easy for anyone to fall victim, according to Striegel.

“They take advantage of the fact that we were expecting a package that day that evokes our curiosity and we’re like ‘Oh, I need to find out more information because I was expecting some sort of a package, I click on the link without thinking about it, and then that’s how they try to either compromise my computer at home, my smartphone or just try to get more information out of me,” Striegel said. “These types of activities generally tend to be just kind of loosely desperate organizations. And their goal is they’re just trying to take advantage of us doing our shopping online and they hope that we would let our guard down by having a piece of information that they know about.

The tricks are not new, either. In fact, the messages have created quite a buzz around the country as both the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission have spoken out, warning people not to fall for the trap.

If you do fall victim and click on the link, the first thing to do is take care of the account’s password, according to Striegel.

“Change your password, you know go through and sort of confirm you use that password across multiple sites, that’s a great opportunity to go through and update those passwords,” Striegel said.

Striegel advised that everyone practice good security hygiene.

“And what that means is always be suspicious,” Striegel said. “They’re taking advantage of just sort of our natural concern then and so we should always have our guard up.”

Some rumors surrounding the messages have circled the country, claiming that the messages are a part of a sex trafficking scheme, but the Polaris Project—the movement behind the National Human Trafficking Hotline—said it is all just that, a rumor.

If you do receive one of these messages, experts advise not to click on the link. You can also report the message at the BBB or FTC.

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