Now that post-Thanksgiving shopping is in full swing, here’s a brief tip for those purchasing Amazon gadgets as Christmas gifts: if you are giving an Amazon Device to someone outside your household, take a moment to deregister the device from your Amazon account. Otherwise you may inadvertently give more gift than you bargained for.
Amazon devices ship pre-connected to the purchaser’s account — and thus to the purchaser’s payment settings. This is the the case for Fire TV devices; it may also be true for Fire tablets and Echo voice control devices. Straight out of the box, an Amazon Fire TV device can purchase digital media and games, billed to the original purchaser of the device.
I actually like this user experience decision: it is quite consumer-friendly, making it simple to unbox it, plug it in, and immediately start using it. Sure there’s a potential abuse case here: a device stolen out of the mailbox could be abused to make digital purchases billed to the rightful owner – but those purchases are still tied to your account, not to the device, so there’s no transferable value to the thief*. On top of that the purchaser gets a notification as soon as the device is first activated, limiting the window to make fraudulent purchases. And of course fraudulent purchases can be disputed and reversed.
This leads to another tip: where possible use a low-limit credit card, or a prepaid debit card, for any online accounts. That way any fraud is with the bank’s money and not yours. A debit card is tied directly to your bank account, meaning fraud immediately hits your cash balance. Sure, you’ll get fraudulent transactions reversed and the money back. Eventually. But eventually doesn’t help if the rent is due today.
*Digital media is not transferable. However, some apps feature in-app shopping, suggesting it may be possible for a mail thief to plug in a Fire TV and purchase physical items for delivery. Alexa voice commands theoretically would allow for purchasing hard goods independent of any app features.