Amazon Payments Locks Me Out Of Account, Won’t Answer My Calls

Ray was looking for a job, but jobs are elusive things and hard to find where he lives. So he turned to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a service where users can perform small tasks that can’t be automated in return for small amounts of money that eventually add up.

Does this story sound familiar? It should. Not long ago, we shared the story of a reader with a similar name who was in a similar situation. Rey needed an Amazon Payments account to use Kickstarter, and he too got locked out of his account before he could even get started.

In the beginning of January I signed up for an Amazon Mechanical Turk and Amazon Payments account in order to make some income while I struggled to find myself a job in the area. My Turk account was confirmed almost right away, but the Payments account said that it was failing to verify the information (including social security number, required to prove US Citizenship) I had sent in and that I had to try again. Double checking that all my information was 100% accurate (as it was the first time) I tried again, only to be told that once again the information could not be validated and that my account was now locked down. I tried to go back to the site and edit my information again, but all functionality on my Payments account had been completely disabled. Frustrated, I emailed inquiring as to why this was happening, and didn’t get very far.

I was sent simple form letters repeating the information I had already been told, and was told that until the situation could be resolved my account would remain locked. I tried to point out that there was no error on my part. After a week and a half of dancing back and forth getting nowhere, I put in a call to their phone support lines. The first operator was not very helpful, but the second one revealed to me why this was happening: My social security number was failing to validate due to my lack of employment in the past. Since I had no financial records in this database they used to check proof of citizenship against my account was locked down and would require an alternate form of verification because of this. I was promised I’d be sent the fax number for the payments verification crew with instructions on what to send, yet weeks later I never got the email with this information.

I sent emails to support, called several more times and at last sent an email to Jeff Bezos when I felt I had run out of options. I was responded to by one of his secretaries whom told me there was simply nothing they would do and have since blocked communication with me. I feel this is highly anti-consumer treatment and completely irresponsible behavior for a company to have. Paypal and some other places ran into similar troubles because of my lack of financial footprint, but have all readily given me options to confirm my identity and get me on the move. I really think Amazon needs to be held accountable for the absolutely horrific way they’ve treated me and possibly many others stuck in this situation, it cannot just be swept under the rug.

That’s why it pays to have some kind of credit history, but it’s hard to get employment history if you can’t find work because you don’t have any employment history.