Protect Your Seller Account Against Amazon Hackers
Just when you think your Amazon business is safely guarded under the protective shield of this e-commerce giant, there’s news about third-party Seller accounts being taken over by hackers. Evidently, determined Amazon hackers have been able to purchase username and password credentials from the “dark web”. This non-mainstream web is known as a network of anonymous internet servers, where illicit trade and communication occurs. Hackers then test those ill-gotten credentials to log into legitimate Amazon Seller accounts. Once they’ve gained access, these hackers post fake deals and/or ultimately change bank account information to divert the bi-weekly payments. Although it seems that most hijacked Seller accounts thus far have been dormant or new ones, it could only a matter of time before the unscrupulous find a way into those highly active accounts if they haven’t already.
Adding Protective Layers Against Amazon Hackers
With over 2 million third party Sellers accounting for more than half of Amazon’s sales, they are working diligently to get in front of this problem rather than be in recovery mode. But don’t passively wait for Amazon’s resolutions. This is not a wait and see kind of situation and you definitely don’t want your business-as-usual flow to be interrupted or suspended for any amount of time. Stay on top of your account and take these 5 proactive measures for your own peace of mind.
#1: Create a Unique Username & Password
It’s not uncommon with today’s technology to do everything online. From emails to paying bills to streaming to online businesses to banking to shopping to social media; the average user has 90 accounts. On top of that, there’s an average 130 online accounts registered to one email address. According to an online survey of more than 2,000 English-speaking adults, 37% percent of people forget a password at least once a week. So what’s common practice? Rotate between 3 – 5 passwords that can be easily remembered. Often these aren’t even very secure. Time to stop that practice immediately. Especially with your Amazon account.
Going Old School
First, if you haven’t already created a business email account for Amazon do that right now. It’s not wise to have your Amazon notifications sent to a personal account since they can easily be lost with your daily email influx.
You can easily set up a gmail account using your Storefront name as the new email address. If by chance that gmail name is already taken, add an LLC or Inc to the end of your Store name.
Create a unique password to be used when signing in to your Seller account, but don’t make it the same one as your new business gmail password.
Go old school and write your new password on paper. Unless you have excellent security on your computer or cell phone and feel safe posting it there; stick to a notebook dedicated solely to your Amazon business.
Be sure to update your notification preferences in your Seller account with this new email address.
Now it will be much easier to sort and organize your centralized email hub of all Amazon communications.
#2: Keep Your Bank Accounts Separate
Sometimes in an effort to get your merchant account set-up quickly, Sellers will use their personal bank account (and credit card) for the charging and deposit methods. Amazon requires this info from the get go which makes your personal account an easy default. This is frequently the case if a Seller doesn’t set up a formal company and starts off as a sole proprietor. But don’t wait until you change your legal entity status, if you haven’t already done this, open a checking account that is strictly for your Amazon business.
You can open an account online very easily these days or go into your local bank and ask for assistance. Try to find one that has a low minimum balance to make your money easily accessible when you need it.
Do the same for your Charge method as well. Use a dedicated credit card or simply utilize the bank card that comes with your new bank account.
Remember to update those details in your Seller account.
#3: Confirm Payments Are Actually Landing in Your Bank Account
It generally takes 3 – 5 business days after bi-weekly payments are distributed to show up in your bank account. Amazon issues Seller payouts like clockwork. Set a notification reminder to “Confirm Amazon Deposit” based on your 2 week payment schedule. Then take 5 minutes to verify that the money is actually sitting in your bank account. To do this is super easy since every bank these days has a downloadable app, which means you can be anywhere in the world and still check that the money is in your account. This way you are on top of any possible shenanigans if anything is amiss.
#4: Re-energize Your Account or Shut It Down
Although hackers will continuously look for ways to squirm their way into Seller accounts; this current round of illegal activity appears to be aimed at older, dormant accounts and new Sellers, both of which have no current sales activities.
Perhaps you’ve created a Seller account but your first and only product was a bust so there hasn’t been sales for awhile. Or, maybe you’re new to the Amazon platform and waiting for your products to be shipped. Sometimes this happens when suppliers or manufacturers are backlogged and/or waiting on components to complete your order. Whatever the reason, your Seller account may be sitting idle and meanwhile hackers are on the hunt for these types of accounts for their get in, get out scams.
1) Either research and procure new products (even if they are interim to the ones being held up); or,
2) Close your account if you no longer want to sell on the Amazon marketplace.
The main point here is to show activity on your Seller account rather than meet the criteria Amazon hackers use in their selection process.
If you remain a Seller however, make sure you take this final security measure immediately.
#5: Set-up Amazon’s 2 Step Verification Process
Did you know that Amazon had a 2 step verification process option when logging into your Seller account? It’s an excellent security precaution and it’s not new. You’ll probably be hearing more about it in the coming weeks while they work on adding more protective layers for Sellers.
To activate it takes less than 3 minutes. Heads up though, make sure you have a second cell phone number or an Authenticator App.
Go to the Login Settings under the Settings tab in your Seller account dashboard:
Select the Edit button next to the Advanced Security Settings
This explanations page will pop up.
Next, choose whether you’d prefer to receive your verification code via text or by some other type of Authenticator App that generates codes even when you don’t have cell service.
Heads up, the verification code is in the text; not the first number you see on your text panel.
In the final step, Amazon will ask you to add yet a second phone number as backup in case something happens to the first number:
“If you don’t have access to your preferred method, you can use a backup method in order to sign in. Adding a backup method is required to prevent losing access to your account. You can always edit these methods on your Advanced Security Settings page.”
Although the above sounds like you have a choice; you don’t. You cannot complete this setup without posting a second number or using an Authenticator App.
PayPal and Ebay have been the target of hackers previously and let’s face it Amazon is all over the news with its huge successes, new services and tribulations (re: fake reviews, counterfeit products and now hackers). You can definitely expect Amazon to step up their cybersecurity very quickly and who knows? Maybe they’ll create a truly innovative solution. Don’t be surprised if Amazon makes their 2 Step Verification Process mandatory and implements a new verification process before changing bank deposit information.
In the meantime, you are in control of the above recommendations. Don’t wait for something to happen before taking protective measures. To borrow from Nike: Just do it.
Tina Marie Bueno is a global citizen with an MBA in Int’l Business plus over 20 years of content marketing experience both in the U.S. and overseas. As the Lead Writer at MarketHustl, she strives to deliver relevant content to serve Amazon businesses of all sizes.
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