Scam Sellers (and Buyers) on Amazon: What to Look For and How to Safeguard Your Business
Scams on Amazon have grown significantly over the years, with fraudulent sellers putting up bogus listings for products they don’t actually have or intend to ship to paying customers; counterfeit listings promising too-good-to-be-true prices on top-selling, name-brand items; and even buyers looking to score products without paying for them themselves.
As an Amazon seller, these scams can often jeopardize your business, and while Amazon itself is known for being more reactive to them than proactive, there are some checks and balances you can put into place to minimize the repercussions associated with seller (and buyer) fraud.
This, and more, below.
Fraudulent Amazon Sellers
These days, fraudulent Amazon sellers are pretty easy to spot — that is, assuming you know what to look out for. Red flags include a “Just Launched” description under “Seller Information”, ridiculously low prices, a lack of Prime Two-Day Shipping (in fact, shipping often takes 2+ weeks), thousands of in-stock products (each one priced much lower than MSRP, of course) and a slew of negative reviews.
And the scam itself is pretty simple: price low, cash in on sales, close your Amazon account before your buyers realize they never received their orders, open a new (“Just Launched”) account, price low, cash in — you get the idea.
To establish trust with your buyers and confirm you are a “real” seller, make sure you are answering any and all product inquiries in a timely fashion. Consumers who see a listing that is too good to be true often contact the sellers first with questions as a way to prevent getting scammed..
Not only do you get the idea, but you’ve probably seen this before – maybe even on one of your own products. In other words, a listing is flooded with competing sellers that claim to be selling the same item for a seemingly far better deal.
You end up losing a sale, and a would-be customer has a bad experience because they either received a knock-off or didn’t receive anything at all and then leaves a negative review that counts against your listing. Talk about a lose-lose. But luckily, there are tips to protect your Amazon product listings from hijackers. Also, check out the scam sellers list which lists sellers that have been deemed as scams based on negative feedback.
Protecting Your Business
Here are a few steps you can take to preserve the integrity (and high ratings) of your business:
1: Report Fraudulent Activity to Amazon
First and foremost, report any fraudulent behavior you see on your listings – and keep your reporting simple. One Amazon seller suggests the following criteria:
Subject line: Possible fraudulent sellers
Message: “We believe the following sellers are engaging in fraudulent activity. Please investigate.
Seller’s name: Link to storefront:
Seller’s name: Link to storefront:
Avoid using the terms “fake” or “counterfeit” and don’t repeat the same seller twice.
Report the Fraudulent Sellers to the Amazon Seller Community
There is a thread in the Amazon Seller Forums dedicated to reporting “Just Launched” listing hijackers.
Turn on Push Notifications
If you use auto-pricers or monitor pricing changes through Amazon, contact your autopricer provider or IT person to set up a couple specific notifications that could help you track fraudulent accounts. Learn more about this here.
Solicit Reviews From Your Customers
For every negative review you may suffer as a result of fraud, you should be getting positive reviews from actual customers. And to increase your chances of getting positive reviews, you need to ask your customers to give their feedback. Set up an automated email that gets sent to your customers after they’ve received one of your products – thank them for their business, ask if they are happy with their purchase, and provide a link for them to leave a review if they are so inclined.
Have the Proper Invoices
In case you are ever the subject of a fraud dispute, Amazon may ask you to prove the chain of custody for your products. So make sure you have the proper invoices and paperwork in place.
Keep Account Information Secure
Take these simple steps to protect your Amazon seller account information so you are not at risk of being hacked.
In addition to scam sellers on Amazon are scam buyers – individuals who take over someone else’s Amazon account (and stored credit card information) to make purchases. Jon Rush, a Payability customer and owner of C7 Device Recycle on Amazon, has encountered this behavior before.
He says, “We’ve seen two red flags for buyer fraud: Someone buys a low-ticket item and pays overnight shipping where the shipping cost is more expensive than the item itself, or someone places an order then reaches out to us directly to change the shipping address. What we’ve found is that someone has accessed someone else’s Amazon account and is trying to bypass Amazon’s system to make updates to an order.”
Even the most experienced sellers will have a story of how they dealt with a bad scam buyer, here are some of their stories on Web Retailer.
Pro Tip: “If any customers reach out to you directly about making a change to their order, direct them back to Amazon to file their request through the proper, documented channels. That way, you have a record of everything.”
Amazon’s Fraud Response
It seems like scams on Amazon are increasing at a much faster rate than the Amazon Seller Performance team can manage. While Amazon has implemented an Anti-Counterfeiting Policy and A-to-Z Guarantee to ensure that their customers always buy with confidence, sellers want to be able to sell with confidence, too.
Sellers in the Amazon Seller Forums have proposed a more rigorous vetting of new third-party accounts, a 30-day funds hold on new accounts, or a new seller deposit that Amazon holds for a certain length of time. It will be interesting to see what proactive measures (if any) Amazon takes to preserve its Third-Party marketplace — especially with Walmart launching its own marketplace, and its own vetting process to boot.
What steps have you taken to combat scam sellers on Amazon? What would you like to see Amazon do to control the recent waves of “Just Launched” hijackers?
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