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BBB: Amazon credit notification e-mails are not a scam

  • Special to The Eagle
  • Published Friday, March 28, 2014, at 1:33 p.m.

The Better Business Bureau has often warned about not responding to suspicious e-mails that come to you unsolicited, especially when they are supposedly notifying you of free money. Scammers seem to have an infinite number of ways to trick their victims using genuine-appearing e-mail notifications.

But if you recently received an e-mail saying a credit has been applied to your Amazon or Barnes and Noble account because of an antitrust settlement, it is probably the real thing. A class action lawsuit against the five biggest book publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin – has recently been settled.

While Amazon was not sued, if you bought a Kindle book from any of those publishers between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, credit was automatically given to your Amazon account.

The issue in the lawsuit was artificially inflated e-book prices through price-fixing. The total cost of the settlement is $155 million and affects 23 million consumers.

The amount you receive will, of course, depend on how many Kindle books from those five publishers were bought by you. Check your account to see whether credit due you has been applied.

Reminders about scams

Because we all know how devious e-mail scammers are, this is a good time to remind yourself of some of the basic precautions consumers should always take. Keep these tips in mind:

• Anyone can fake the look of an e-mail from any business. By copying and pasting the real logos and addresses of legitimate business, they can easily make their e-mail to you look genuine.

• Bad spelling or grammatical mistakes, or both, are an indicator that the e-mail is probably a fake.

• Watch out for emails that ask you to “verify” your account information or that otherwise request personal information from you like your account number or Social Security number. Do not respond to such requests.

• Go to the business’ website and check on your account if you have questions. An unsolicited e-mail may have links on it that, if clicked on, will download malware onto your computer. Close out the e-mail and search with your browser for the company’s website rather than trusting the e-mail’s link. Do not copy and paste URL addresses from an e-mail into your browser.

• An urgent tone, for instance wording like, “You must respond right away!” is a definite red flag that the e-mail is a fake. Don’t respond to such requests.

• Never open attachments on unsolicited e-mails. They can install malware on your computer or device.

Scammers trying to “phish” for your personal information or otherwise extract money from you will almost certainly soon start sending out their messages across the country. They will try to confuse victims into believing their e-mails relate to the above mentioned e-book settlements.

Familiarizing yourself with their methods and being watchful can prevent any financial harm to you.

Denise Groene is state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Reach the BBB at 800-856-2417 or www.kansasplains.bbb.org.

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