Warning, Amazon sellers: Identity theft can take your Seller Central down!
Guest Post by Kelly Johnston at Riverbend Consulting
Identity theft off of the platform is causing the suspension of legitimate Amazon seller accounts. This shocking new trend should prompt Amazon sellers to be vigilant and protective of both their business and personal information.
Seller information is being stolen from other web sites, via card skimmers, or with plain old-
fashioned dumpster-diving for paper. This can wreck an existing Amazon business or cause a potential seller to be unable to register a seller account on Amazon.
Recently, we’ve seen clients with existing seller accounts who are suddenly suspended by
Amazon. Seller Performance tells the seller that they are related to another closed account. The only problem is, the client has never even heard of the other closed account.
That’s all shocking enough, but conversations with Account Health have revealed that these
relations have a lot of the same information as the client’s real account. The “mystery” account and the client’s real selling account might share an address, credit card number, employer identification number, social security number and more.
Our clients who have been given these details by Account Health have then performed a deep dive into their business and personal identities. In the end, they discovered that they had been compromised. The person who stole their business or personal details set up an Amazon seller account, which may have been used to try and defraud buyers or perform other illegal activities. As a result, when that bad actor account was shut down, Amazon shut down our clients’ legitimate seller accounts were suspended as well.
How can sellers protect themselves?
Whether you are a current Amazon seller or hope to be one in the future, there are steps you
can take to help yourself down the road. Identity theft is everywhere, and it’s worth the time
Stay on top of security breaches at firms you may have used
Check your email address at Have I Been Pwned; this might tip you off to other breaches
Many credit cards, like Discover, have free Dark Web monitoring - use it
Keep your devices and browsers updated
Don’t use public Wi-Fi without a VPN
File a fraud alert with the credit bureaus as soon as you become aware of any suspicious activities with your social security number or credit cards
If you’re currently a seller, all of the above still applies, but consider adding the following:
Have a strong, regularly updated password for Seller Central
Don’t give anyone access to your main Seller Central account login
Use a VPN if you’re traveling or on the move to protect your account
If you grant sub-user access, ensure it’s as limited as possible and that you monitor the sub-users’ activity; don’t set it and forget it
Monitor your credit bureaus, emails, etc., and ensure you change your passwords frequently
What if your seller account gets suspended, and you think it’s because you’ve been
If you’re an active Amazon seller and shut down for related or “linked” accounts, contact
Account Health to ask for more details. If Amazon says “you” have another account that’s also been closed, make more inquiries to determine whether the two accounts in question share any details.
If they do, start investigating. You will need to determine whether you’ve been compromised, and then go to Amazon armed with as much data as possible. A compelling paper trail gives Amazon Seller Performance a reason to look deeper into your circumstances. But be aware that Amazon is out to protect itself here and is going to be inclined to think you’re the bad guy.
The same is true for a would-be seller who makes it through registration but doesn’t get to sell because they’re told they already have an account and it’s closed.
The process is frustrating and can take weeks or months to resolve. That’s time most sellers do not have. Rather than trying to go at it alone as most sellers do and risk being blocked
completely and ignored by Amazon, a professional can help. If you find yourself in this
disastrous scenario, contact Riverbend Consulting. We are happy to discuss your challenges.
As director of operations, Kelly Johnston is the glue that holds Riverbend Consulting together and was with the company at its founding. She survived 10 years in the digital salt mines of Amazon Seller Performance. Before that, Kelly held other e-commerce roles where she worked in content, sales, and operations. When not helping clients, Kelly is a talented artist. Collage and up-cycled assemblages are her current passions.