Earlier this week, I got scammed for $500 and I wanted to warn others so they won’t get drawn in as well.

I’ve always been extremely careful: Never doing banking online not answering a phone call if I don’t recognize the caller and only doing online shopping with Amazon. The scam started with an email that looked official, supposedly from Amazon: An Order Confirmation for a very large purchase, being sent to an address not my own.

Very long story short, in my panic my biggest mistake was calling the number provided in the message before checking my Amazon account to see if the charges were actually on it.

The woman at the number I called was very convincing: She answered saying, “Amazon (Customer Service, or something).” As we got into the proceedings and I was getting suspicious, I asked how I could be sure she was really at Amazon. She “proved it” by telling me the most recent purchases I had made. How in the world had they gotten that information?

She had also asked me security-type questions about possible ways my account could have been hacked: Had I traveled recently? Used a public WiFi? Clicked on a pop-up ad while I was online? etc. She was very sweet, “helpful,” and seemed to know the kinds of things the Amazon people would know about me.

I was savvy enough not to give her my credit card or bank account numbers, but got taken for $500 on a gift card just the same. An expensive lesson — something I thought I was intelligent enough not to fall for.

I have spent countless hours since then talking with the credit card fraud division, with Amazon’s fraud division (temporarily blocking access to that account and changing my password) and at my bank securing my account there.

Bottom line: I’ve taken all the precautions to safeguard my accounts from now on, but I’m mortified, embarrassed and feeling very vulnerable. Please, just don’t get taken in yourself; these people are very clever at passing themselves off as genuine.

Susan Beard lives in Rutland.

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