Costco is a retail juggernaut that has won the hearts and wallets of millions of Americans. With its unbeatable combination of top-notch products and rock-bottom prices where you can find everything you need and more all under one roof, it’s no wonder that it’s the go-to destination for savvy shoppers.
Nevertheless, wherever there is a beloved destination, fraudsters will attempt to exploit it for their own gain. To safeguard its loyal customers, the giant retailer has issued alerts regarding several common scams that these criminals employ to deceive unsuspecting shoppers like you and me.
Let’s go through some of the most popular ones, so that you know what to look out for.
1. Avoid all fake emails
The Costco Executive membership is a great way to save money because you can earn an annual 2% reward on qualifying purchases at Costco, Costco.com and Costco Travel. However, this is something that hackers try to take advantage of. They will try to email or text you about these rewards and will likely ask you to click on a link that has malware or will ask you to give away your personal information.
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Costco will only send you your reward certificate along with your annual renewal notice by mail, and it will only be sent to the primary member. So if you are contacted in any other way by someone claiming to be from Costco, don’t trust it.
You may also have gotten emails in the past about winning a new product like a TV or gaming system, exclusive giveaways, or even asking you to take a survey. Make sure you are always checking the email address of the sender before you proceed in clicking any links or opening any attachments within these emails. Costco’s official email that it uses to send real messages is Costco@online.costco.com, so if the email that you’re opening doesn’t have that exact address, it’s likely a scam.
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2. Watch out for fake websites
There are hackers out there who will try to make fake websites that look identical to Costco’s so that people will give away their personal information or try to buy a product that they’ll never get. Costco’s URL is a pretty simple one, https://www.costco.com. Make sure you’re always checking the URL of the website you’re on before you type in any information or try to purchase anything.
3. Postal service scams
Another trick that a hacker will use is sending an email that looks like it is coming from the U.S. Postal Service that tells you your package has been lost, and you have to apply for re-delivery. They will send out these emails to people regardless of if you are expecting to receive a package or not. If you know for a fact that you have not ordered anything online from Costco, ignore this email. If you have ordered something from Costco, reach out to the company directly either via their live chat service or their customer service number at 1 (800) 774-2678. Let them know about the email you received, and they will help you from there.
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4. Phony job interviews
Yes, you read that heading correctly. Scammers will even go as far as to send people emails about job interviews to work for Costco, even if you’ve never applied. They will ask for your employment information and other personal details in exchange for a job interview with the company. No company should be asking you for any personal information until you’ve already been hired, so if you’re receiving an email like this, it’s most certainly a scam.
5. Texting scams
Sometimes a hacker may text you with links to take surveys or claim some fake “reward,” similar to email scams. They also may try to trick you with direct deposit scams, which is when they send you a text asking you to connect your credit card information to Costco for instant cash-back rewards. This is how they try to steal your credit card number or even your bank account number for their gain.
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Don’t click on any links sent to you this way, especially if they’re using urgent language trying to get you to act fast.
6. Special Covid-19 perks
Scammers have also tried convincing Costco customers of a so-called “Costco coronavirus stimulus package,” in which a person would become eligible for free perks for being a Costco member. There is no such thing as a Costco coronavirus stimulus package, and any message you receive about this, whether it’s via email or text message, is from a scammer.
7. Gift card scams
Costco offers its customers Shop Cards that they can give to their loved ones as gifts or use for themselves. However, these cards can only be used on Costco’s website or at a store location, and the company will never send you a message about redeeming your card. The card is not redeemable for cash, and you should ignore any message you receive prompting you to redeem your card.
8. Fake Facebook scams
There have been scammers in the past who try to trick people with fake Facebook ads. They will disguise themselves as workers or even CEOs of Costco claiming that they are celebrating a special anniversary with the company and then offer people items like food boxes from the store if they share, like, or comment on the post. Below is an example from Costco’s website of what these fake posts might look like.
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9. Fraudulent cart notifications
You might also receive an email about so-called “items in your cart.” This is when a scammer will tell you that you have left items in your cart while shopping online without completing your purchase and then urge you to click a link that will lead you to Costco’s website. However, this will lead you to a fake website that usually contains malware or will ask you to give over more personal information.
How can I further protect myself from these scams?
Keeping a watchful eye on all your emails and text messages is never a bad idea. However, we are only human, and these scammers can get clever, so there is only so much we can avoid on our own. That’s why I’m urging you to take the following further precautions if you have not done so already.
Have good antivirus software on all your devices.
Installing antivirus software will protect you from accidentally clicking malicious links that would install malware onto your devices. The software will also remove any existing malware from your devices.
See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices at CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech.
Use identity theft protection.
Identity theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security number, phone number, and email address, and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.
One of the best parts of using some services is that they might include identity theft insurance of up to $1 million to cover losses and legal fees and a white glove fraud resolution team where a U.S.-based case manager helps you recover any losses.
See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by visiting CyberGuy.com/IdentityTheft.
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