Security is something we take very seriously at Splitly. We pride ourselves in adopting the best safety precautions including encryption, two-factor authentication and carrying out daily scans for viruses and threats. As Splitly is a software product, we take the greatest care in keeping our users data safe. But what about security breaches for Amazon Sellers? Is this something the average FBA seller should worry about?
Well, my advice would be no. You can’t spend your life living in fear that your accounts will be hacked otherwise you would miss out on great opportunities (like selling on Amazon and making a money from it). But what you can do is educate yourselves on the risks, and how to prevent your seller account being compromised.
To help us do that, I invited Robert Segall, from Amazon Sellers Lawyer, to talk about account hacking and arbitration. With specific experience in helping sellers who have been unfortunate enough to get their accounts hacked, Robert has some interesting insights and tips to share.
Amazon Sellers are constantly finding new and innovative ways to expand their businesses and succeed in the e-commerce sector. Third-Party Sellers dominate the sales force on Amazon, and their hard work and dedication to this growing field is responsible for the enjoyment millions of people gain from being able to shop easily and efficiently on the Amazon platform.
However, as many readers will be aware, it is not always smooth sailing for the Amazon Seller. Account suspensions and baseless intellectual property complaints can plague sellers and result in lost sales or the need to speak to a law firm for help.
Our team at Amazon Sellers Lawyer has recently noticed a increase in hacked Amazon Seller accounts over the past year. The worst case scenario is essentially that unauthorized, third-party hackers can access a sellers account and stealing funds or information. In some cases, this occurs before a Seller has the time to realize anything has happened.
Account Hackings on the Rise
Earlier in the year, our firm noticed that there was a significant increase in the amount of Amazon Sellers with hacked accounts calling in for help. While we have been successful in resolving numerous hacking cases for our clients, account hacking is still a prevalent issue on the Amazon platform.
Keep reading to find out what types of hacking issues arise on the Amazon platform, the procedure for resolving hacking issues with Amazon, as well as how to resolve hacking issues outside the Amazon platform by utilizing the Arbitration process.
Types of Account Hacking Issues on the Amazon Platform
Essentially, there are three categories of account hacking issues that the team at Amazon Sellers lawyer has experience with:
- An Amazon Seller account is suspended and their funds have been transferred to a hacker’s bank account
- The Amazon Seller is NOT suspended and their account funds have been transferred to a hacker’s account
- A seller has lost the ability to log in to their account and their account funds have been transferred to a hacker’s bank account
You may be thinking, “this will never happen to me“, and for the vast majority of sellers, maybe it never will. But in our experience, it’s the sellers who least expect it that get stung, and the realities of dealing with this issue after it has happened can be very time consuming and stressful.
Working with Amazon to Resolve a Hacking Issue
It doesn’t always have to be all bad news. In fact, sometimes it can be resolved by working with Amazon themselves. When this doesn’t work there are other steps you can take to get your account back.
Step 1: Work With Amazon
Typically, when an Amazon Seller account is hacked, the first step is to try and work with Amazon to resolve the issue. If an Amazon seller is not “locked out” of their account, and still can access seller central, rectifying the account may be as simple as responding to an Amazon message and ensuring the Amazon Seller has set-up 2-step verification and other security measures for their account.
However, for the Amazon Seller who is locked out of their account, the journey to account reconciliation is often longer and more difficult.
Step 2: Escalate Your Case With Amazon
If responding to Amazon and setting up 2-step verification does not work, or if an Amazon Seller is locked out of their account, the next step is to reach out to Jeff Bezos’ escalation team at Amazon to attempt to resolve the issue and regain control of the Amazon Seller account at issue.
Step 3: Take Legal Action
While the team at Amazon Seller’s lawyer has successfully regained control of our client’s listings using the escalation process, we sometimes need to take the issue outside the Amazon platform to see results. Read on to find out more about what the Arbitration process entails and how the team at Amazon Sellers Lawyer has the experience to guide sellers through the process and get positive results.
Taking Amazon to Arbitration When Standard Procedure Fails to Reconcile an Account
Here’s a little bit of information about how you can take legal action in the fastest and most cost effective way if you find yourself in a situation where you cannot recover your account.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is essentially a shrunken down version of a trial that takes place in a court of law. While very similar to a court proceeding, arbitration is generally, faster, cheaper, easier, and more efficient than litigating any issue.
In an arbitration proceeding, the “arbitrator” takes the place of the judge, and the hearing is typically held in a private office between the involved parties instead of in a court house. Just like a trial, results obtained in arbitration are binding, meaning the arbitrator’s decision is final.
Amazon Sellers may be wondering why they should bring an issue like account hacking to arbitration rather than a court of law. This is especially true because Amazon hacking issues can often cause the entirety of an Amazon Sellers funds to be transferred to the hacker’s bank account at no fault of their own.
However, every Amazon Seller must agree to the terms of Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement (BSA) prior to receiving the ability to sell on the Amazon platform.
Arbitration vs Court of Law:
Amazon and you both consent that any dispute with Amazon or its Affiliates or claim relating in any way to this Agreement or your use of the Services will be resolved by binding arbitration as described in this paragraph, rather than in court.
The BSA requires Amazon and Amazon Sellers to resolve all issues via binding arbitration.
What Does the Arbitration Process Entail?
The arbitration process typically begins with what is called a Demand for Arbitration. This Demand is sent to both Amazon and the American Arbitration Association (AAA). The AAA is the governing body for all Amazon Arbitrations. Once Amazon, their lawyers, and the AAA receive and process a Demand for Arbitration, Amazon and the filing Seller receive confirmation of the filing.
First, an Arbitrator is mutually selected by the parties, and a preliminary conference call then takes place between the parties and the arbitrator to discuss scheduling and a brief synopsis of the case. Ultimately, a final hearing will be scheduled, with opportunities beforehand for both parties to request documents and evidence similar to the Discovery process in a traditional trial.
Hacking Cases and Arbitration
Hacking cases are managed slightly differently by Amazon and their lawyers when it comes to arbitrations. This is likely because an Amazon Seller account hacking issue is caused by no fault of the Seller. In a hacking case, there is no claim of violation of Amazon’s policy or appeal of an unwarranted Amazon suspension. A hacking case is strictly a Seller attempting to rectify a situation in which Amazon’s security was breached and their funds have been stolen.
For these very reasons, in our experience, hacking arbitrations are very likely to be resolved prior to the final hearing date, scheduled by the parties and the Arbitrator. This is a good thing!
From our experience as an Amazon law firm, once Amazon’s lawyers are aware an arbitration has been filed to resolve a hacked account issue, the lawyers reach out to our firm to attempt to rectify the issue internally. This means there is a higher success rate of both regaining control of a Seller’s account, but also in getting Amazon to return the stolen funds to the Amazon seller.
Ways to Prevent Amazon Seller Account Hacking
There are some very simple things you can do to prevent your account from being hacked or compromised. To some people, these things seem obvious. Equally, a lot of the Amazon seller community has no background in technology or business. In fact, many sellers start out their business as a side project, and as such, things like account security can be overlooked at first.
So if you are reading this and worried about the security of your account and your revenue, I urge you to take the following steps immediately:
- Setup 2-Step Verification for your Amazon Seller account – this involves setting up a second method of verifying that it’s you signing in. This could be using an app on your phone, or via an SMS service where Amazon send you a 2-factor code to enter every time you sign in
- Choose a unique password that utilizes upper and lower case letters as well as punctuation marks – try using a password storage system like 1password or LastPass, which will help you keep track of hard to remember passwords and can help to generate super secure passwords
- Change your account password on a quarterly basis
- Frequently monitor your Amazon Seller account and report any suspicious activity to Amazon immediately
- Never share your login details or password with anyone – If you need to give other people access (partner, friend, agencies, virtual assistant etc.), do so using the user permissions and enabling people to have their own login to your account
Tip: If you travel frequently, try using a mobile app authenticator, like Authy!
In sum, hacking issues do happen, and although they can sometimes be rectified quickly, sometimes it can take longer and require an Arbitration process.
If your account becomes compromised, the worse case scenario is that you could lose money in your account. Even if no money is taken, you could lose access to your account, and miss out on sales if your products are altered or removed.
Amazon Sellers Lawyer are always here to help with these cases, as well as a number of other Amazon related issues. But our best advice is to follow the security tips in this post to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Never settle for “it won’t happen to me“, because it could!
About the Author
Robert Segall is a paralegal with Amazon Sellers Lawyer. He has a background in business administration and is currently pursuing his Juris Doctor at Maurice A. Deane School of Law, and will graduate with a concentration in Intellectual Property Law. Robert’s financial background and experience provide him with unique insight into the needs of Amazon Sellers.
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