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hacker

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I rarely shopped at Amazon because their shipping fee is pretty high. But sometimes I shopped there if one of my friends/relatives in the US are coming to Indonesia. I used their addresses and asked Amazon to deliver my books there. So far, it worked. Amazon has extensive collection of books and most of them are a bit cheaper compare to other stores like The Book Depository.

But a couple of months ago, I was surprised when I received an email from Amazon Seller, congratulating me to have a new seller account. What?? I’ve never registered as a seller and didn’t ever think about being one. First I thought it was a spam, but turned out it really was Amazon’s email account. After that, I received another email that said my Amazon account has been used by an unauthorized party, and Amazon has blocked my account temporarily.

I immediately contacted Amazon via their online customer service. Luckily, Amazon has 24 hrs customer service who are available anytime via chat room. I quickly explained my situation and they helped me to restore my account with a new password.

I thought that was the end of my problem, but a few weeks later, I was shocked to receive an email from Amazon seller, saying that they have automatically charged my credit card for the reseller fee. WTF? Since when did I have reseller account? Then, I realized my old problem was still there.

I tried to contacted the online customer service and even though they were very responsive and tried to be helpful, it’s a bit hard because my problem was not a procedural problem that they can answer and fix immediately. Apparently, the customer service for seller account is different than for regular customers, and they do not have 24 hrs shift – they work 9-5 and follow US time zone. Crap!

Finally the customer service promised that the seller people will contact me directly by phone. While waiting for them to call, I also contacted my credit card provider. They suggested me to close my card immediately but since my problem with Amazon hasn’t been resolved yet, I was afraid to do it right away.

After waiting for several days, Amazon seller division called me by phone, I explained one more time, and a few days later, they emailed me and explained that the fee they charged me was the reseller monthly subscription fee, and it’s normal to be charged automatically every month. I was very frustrated because that was not my problem at all! My problem was someone hacked my account and now I’ve been charged with unnecessary fee!

I wrote a final message, using the word HACK and UNAUTHORIZED and UNSECURED ACCOUNT and finally, they replied to me, apologize for the troubles I had, and said that they will cancel my seller account and return my money to my credit card immediately.

Phew. That’s a long and winding process. But because of that, I have composed an  SOP just in case someone else faced the same problem like I did.

What to do when someone hacked your Amazon account?

1. Check the email address that sent you the notification. Make sure it’s the real one, not just a spam email. All official Amazon email accounts use the same domain: @amazon.com. (For example: account-alert@amazon.com; or seller.service05@amazon.com)

2. Contact your credit card provider to cross check, if it’s true that your credit card had been charged with that certain amount stated by Amazon. Some providers are nice enough to contact you immediately if there’s an online transaction on your card, but some of them just do this sporadically and not regularly.

3. If your card is really charged with unknown transaction, do not block your credit card immediately. Just ask your provider to alert you if there’s another transaction happened. Wait until you resolve your problem and Amazon has returned your money before you block your card. But do block it later and change your password in Amazon because clearly someone else has access to your old account.

4. Contact Amazon customer service immediately. Please note that you need to know exactly the nature of your problem. If it’s only a regular/procedural problem, you can contact any customer service by email/chat room, they will stand-by 24 hrs a day and very responsive. But if your problem is related to different area (in my case, reseller department), then do not expect that the regular customer service can help you. It’s beyond their capability. So you need to state your problem really clear from the beginning, do not afraid to use insensitive words like hacked, or unsecured, etc; if you really encountered that kind of problem. A little extra note: even though Amazon has option for you to leave your phone numbers and then they will contact you, it’s only eligible for US residents. If you live outside the US, you can’t leave your contact numbers. But if you have problems with other departments, they will ask you to leave your numbers via email/message and will contact you soon.

5. Amazon does have a great customer relations division, as well as customer support/service. But most of them are based in another country, they’ve only been trained to answer problems according to the manuals. So be prepared to get transferred, on hold, or waiting. But based on my experience, they tried really hard and meant well.

My problem had been resolved after about 2 weeks, including chatting with customer service back and forth, emailing with them and three times speaking on the phone. Moral of the story? Change your password regularly. Use low-limit credit card for your online transaction. Do not use same data/login/password/credit card for many websites.

There’s no such thing as a secured account. We live in a hacker world nowadays. So be careful, be prepared. And may your online shopping days be free of troubles🙂