Amazon is instituting even more rigorous seller vetting, a spokesperson told EcommerceBytes over the weekend as we conducted research for an article that appeared in today's EB 411 newsletter. Amazon's initiative is a result of a wave of fraud that hit the site in March.
As we reported in this blog post
, scammers are posing as sellers offering cheap prices to attract the attention of buyers.
"Amazon has zero tolerance for fraud," the spokesperson told us. "We withhold payment to Sellers until we are confident that our customers have received the products and services they ordered. In the event that Sellers do not comply with the terms and conditions they've agreed to, we work quickly to take action on behalf of customers."
It isn't the first time sellers have discovered what they refer to as "just launched" seller fraud, and we noted an attack in July of last year. At that time, Amazon removed one of the incentives to fraudsters: as of July 2016, new sellers no longer get paid every 2 weeks - instead they get paid 7 days after confirmed delivery or estimated delivery, depending on whether they provide a tracking number.
The recent seller vetting ramp-up becomes apparent when perusing industry discussion boards, where sellers are seeking advice after receiving notices from Amazon. Here's the letter Amazon is sending sellers:
We are reviewing your Amazon.com seller account. During our review, you will not be able to sell on Amazon.com. If you have sales, funds will not be transferred to you during the review but will stay in your account.
Within the next 30 days, please provide the following documents and confirm there is a valid credit card on file:
- Utility bill with name and address visible
- Business license
- If you have active listings, include copies of invoices, receipts, contracts or delivery orders from your supplier issued in the last 90 days.
You can send files in .pdf, .png, or .gif format. These documents must be authentic and unaltered. You may remove pricing information, but the rest of the document must be visible. Please send the documents to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once we receive your documents, we will review them and decide whether you may sell on Amazon.com again. If you do not send the requested documents within 30 days, we may cancel your listings and any funds in your account may be held for up to 90 days, but funds could be held longer.
To learn more about account reviews, search for "Selling policies" in Seller Central Help.
Seller Performance Team
Some sellers had called for Amazon to better vet new sellers as the recent wave of fraud was escalating, so will likely view this as a positive step.
But many of those who received the letters in recent days are distraught. Some say they do not have a business license because they aren't selling professionally.
Also concerned are sellers of handmade goods on the Amazon Handmade marketplace, who say they don't have invoices for their inventory since they make the goods themselves.
As scammers increasingly turn their attention to Amazon, sellers may find themselves becoming targets - remember to be wary of spoof emails, especially those that convey a sense of urgency that could cause you to panic.
Remember never to click on a link in an email to log in to your account no matter who it comes from, even if the email includes your name and other identifying information.