Amazon starts vetting would-be sellers using video conferencing technology during the coronavirus crisis to stop fraudsters exploiting the platform
- Amazon staff hold a video chat with prospective sellers to check identification
- This is a trial that started with in-person vetting of merchants earlier this year
- The company says so far more than 1,000 seller applications have been checked
- They moved the vetting to video chat as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Would-be fraudsters are being kept from selling on Amazon thanks to a new video conferencing technology that lets the company check their ID and documents.
Amazon staff are using the video call system to speak to prospective sellers and check they match the identification they submitted with their application.
The world’s largest online retailer has long faced scrutiny over how it polices counterfeits and allegedly unsafe products on its platform.
The vetting started in-person earlier this year but has now moved to video calls due to the outbreak of the coronavirus that has most of the world in lockdown.
Amazon staff are using the video call system to speak to prospective sellers and check they match the identification they submitted with their application before they are allowed to list items for sale on the website
The interview vetting, on top of other risk-screening performed by Amazon, has been piloted with more than 1,000 merchant applicants since February.
The merchants are based in China, the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.
The company is using its Chime video conferencing technology to make the calls to the future sellers – but does not use facial recognition – a human verified the ID.
The extra scrutiny by Amazon could make it harder for some China-based sellers who register multiple accounts using private internet networks or fake utility bills.
China-based merchants accounted for 40 per cent of the top 10,000 Amazon sellers in Europe, according to 2019 research from firm Marketplace Pulse.
The verification tests began in person early this year but switched to video conferencing technology in February as coronavirus spread.
‘Amazon is always innovating to improve the seller experience so honest entrepreneurs can seamlessly open a selling account and start a business, while also proactively blocking bad actors,’ an Amazon spokesperson said.
‘As we practise social distancing, we are testing a process that allows us to validate prospective sellers’ identification via video conferencing.
‘This pilot allows us to connect one on one with prospective sellers while making it even more difficult for fraudsters to hide.’
The extra scrutiny by Amazon could make it harder for some China-based sellers who register multiple accounts using private internet networks or fake utility bills
The firm said 2.5 million suspect accounts were stopped worldwide last year before they could offer a single item for sale.
Amazon has operated throughout the lockdown, although deliveries have been delayed and some non-essential products were removed from sale.
The company hasn’t said how the pilot will be expanded to take in more sellers or whether it will eventually be used to verify anyone wanting to sell on the site.
It’s one of a variety of steps being taken by Amazon to tackle its fraud and fake goods problem including taking legal action against sellers of knock-off products.
Before it started using in-person and now video vetting involving a real person, Amazon used a machine-learning process to decide if a prospective seller posed a potential risk.
Third-party sellers make up about half of items sold on Amazon.com.
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