SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — A Spokane Valley woman said she owed a significant amount in taxes for items sold on her Amazon account. The only problem is she’s never been an Amazon seller.

For Dawn Swanson, April 15 is a stark reminder of unfinished business whipped up by a hacker on Amazon.

"They have your banking information, they have your social, they have everything," Swanson said.

She discovered the problem in January 2018 when she got a 1099-K form from Amazon. It was tax documentation for nearly $34,000 worth of merchandise their records show Swanson sold on the site.

"And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this?’ And it said seller on there. So, Amazon seller and I've never sold anything on Amazon. I don't even know how to sell anything on Amazon," Swanson said.

Dawn Swanson
Dawn Swanson

She thought it must be a simple mistake and she would just clear it up with Amazon.

"So, I called immediately, and they said, ‘Well we don't know that you are you and you're not giving the correct information.’ And I said, ‘It's me! I don't know how else to say it's me,’" Swanson said.

She spent 20 to 30 hours in one week trying to sort this out. Swanson was at a loss. As tax filing time was barreling toward her this year, she reached out to KREM.

tax form

KREM reached out to Amazon and explained Swanson's dilemma. After a couple of emails and a couple of days, Amazon said the organization would reach out to Swanson. Not via email, as KREM explained Swanson's email had been compromised so she needed to talk to a human. Within a week, the problem was resolved.

Amazon was able to determine Swanson could not have been the seller, as the seller who hijacked her account was operating overseas.

"[Amazon] confirmed the account was created in Europe with my social and that I had not created it because of the IP address," Swanson said.

How to protect yourself

Cyber experts said changing your password often goes a long way to protecting your account. 

Amazon suggests changing your password every 30-60 days. 

Swanson also sprung for a LifeLock account to help protect her identity from here on out. She now regularly checks her credit report.

Do you have a tip for KREM investigators? Email investigators@krem.com