How to Avoid Amazon Seller Account Suspension for Linked Accounts

how to avoid amazon seller account suspension for linked accounts

Having a linked Amazon Seller Account is a hot mess. A large part of our practice deals with linked accounts that cause verification to fail and that cause suspended accounts. Most of the confusion came from Amazon itself when it told sellers they no longer needed to apply for permission to open a second account. Sellers mistakenly thought that meant that all second accounts were OK.

What Amazon meant was they would let you know if they disagreed with you about needing a second account by suspending you. They didn’t want to deal with all the requests anymore. I’ve written about this previously.

Another popular form of linked account suspension is what I call bad Amazon hygiene. Many sellers are operating side gigs as consultants to other sellers. They may be helping with advertising, marketing, listings, logistics…you get the idea. This is a recipe for linked accounts unless precautions are taken.

Seven Best Practices for Good Amazon Hygiene

  1. Use unique email addresses for each seller account you service
  2. Never use your cell phone for 2-step verification on your clients’ accounts
  3. Never use the same email you use to log in to your own seller account
  4. Always use a VPN to access Amazon. This is not only a best practice for security/encryption of data; VPNs also help you distance your seller account from your clients’.
  5. Never give yourself admin rights on your clients’ accounts. Never.
  6. Set up your consulting business as a separate company from your selling account
  7. Never enter a seller’s account if you are suspended or banned

Use Unique Email

At eGrowth Partners we have the ability to create unlimited unique email forwards. Because we are often working as a team on a client’s project, this lets us have emails forwarded to the whole team. It also means that we are creating a new user identity every time we get a new client.

I’ve been told by Amazonians that this is overkill, and that Amazon can still figure out who you are. That’s fine. We aren’t hiding from Amazon. What we are doing is adding a degree of separation between us and our clients. We are doing everything we can to make it clear that we are a vendor and not another owner. Most importantly, this keeps a clear separation between Cynthia’s seller account and our clients’ accounts.

Never Use Your Cell Phone

Many sellers are unaware that you can set up 2-step verification through an authentication app instead of using your cell phone. Never give your cell phone because it will immediately link to your personal buyer and seller accounts on Amazon.

We grab the long authentication code during set up and record it in our secure client database so anyone on the team can access the client’s account without needing a cell phone.

Never Use Your Own Email

This seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a linked account situation where the seller was using the same email as he used for his seller account. Never, never. You need either a completely unique email for each account OR you need a unique email for your consulting practice that you use for your client accounts.

For example, if your seller account is “BigDealsUSA” for example, your consulting practice might be “AMZConsultants” and you would have an email that you use for all your accounts. Amazon WILL link you to all your clients, BUT they will know that you are a vendor, which is what you want.

Always Use a VPN

How many of you are road warriors? How many of you access Seller Central through your phone? Your likelihood of being hacked is much higher than the homebody sitting behind his firewall. Starbucks, airports, hotels…they are ATMs for bad actors with sniffer/capture devices, so a VPN is just smart regardless.

We use VPNs to add another layer of distance between us and our clients. It masks our true IP address and creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between us and the website we are on. This is how we can Facebook from China, for example.

Most VPN services have a feature that lets you set your internet on automatic. If your VPN becomes disconnected, you can’t access the internet. We use that because otherwise we must remember to connect to the VPN every time and people will occasionally forget. Make yourself bullet proof.

VPNs are not fool-proof. Amazon has other tricks up its sleeves to recognize you, but you are masking some data points which helps keep that distance between you and your clients. We use Hide My Ass but there are lots of VPNs out there. You want to make sure whatever you use covers the countries you travel to the most and that it also protects your phone.

A VPN will slow your internet a bit but nothing like using the TOR browser. TOR is bullet proof, but it is painfully slow. Even the NSA can’t track you. TOR: Used by Savvy Terrorists Worldwide. Just kidding. Don’t sue me.

Never Be an Admin

I know that some of you are thinking, “but I need admin rights to help my clients!” Nope. Don’t be lazy and click “admin” on your permissions list. There are always a few things you absolutely don’t need to know about or mess with on a client’s account. Give yourself limited access to the account. In that way, Amazon sees you as a vendor. They perceive admins to be owners, which is where many linked account headaches occur. We give our clients a list of what we want them to check for our access, instructions, and screen shots. We need a fair amount of access because we are troubleshooting. Amazon has special limited access for warehouse/pick and pack workers, by the way, which makes it easy to set them up.

Set Up a Separate Consulting Business

This is imperative for consultants who are also sellers. Your consulting business needs a separate name, tax ID, bank account and website from your selling business. As I mentioned earlier, you can use the email URL from this separate business if you want or create a unique email every time. Why is this so important? Because if you are ever suspended for linked accounts, it is easy to explain and show Amazon that your consulting business on Amazon PPC truly is a separate entity and that you are not related to your clients.

Last year and earlier this year quite a few seller/consultants got caught up in the Canada glitch (and now it’s happening in Mexico. Sigh) where Amazon was linking their clients accounts through them, basically. It was a mess and a stomach-churning nightmare for the consultants. I say glitch because something was fouled up with the algorithm; Amazon was enforcing on linkages they shouldn’t have. We can’t protect you from an Amazon screw up, but the sellers who were set up as separate entities had the fewest problems and recovered the fastest.

Don’t Take Other Accounts Down With You

Again, this seems obvious, but it happens more often than it should. If you are a seller-consultant and your account is suspended (not ASINs, your account) for any reason, do not go inside your clients’ accounts. Amazon goes on high alert for linked accounts when a seller is suspended. They suspect the seller may try to shift operations to another account, and they are looking for that. Oh, and vice versa. If your client is suspended, do not go in there. You have an account to protect. I suggest using screen sharing and other tools until the account is reinstated. We’ve had situations where one suspended account took down 10+ others, and we had to write appeals for all of them and get them all reinstated at the same time. It is frustrating when that happens.

Final Word

I can go inside seller accounts because I’ve never been suspended, and I take a lot of precautions. In all the years I’ve been a consultant, having been inside thousands of suspended seller accounts, no client has ever been linked to another through me. Amazon knows who we are at eGrowth and what we do. eGrowth Partners is a separate business from my selling business, and it is easy to prove.

Now, let me address the sellers who own multiple accounts or an ownership position in multiple accounts as a “Plan B.” These precautions that I recommend will not help you hide from Amazon if you are breaking their rules. This is not a DIY guide to creating stealth accounts. There’s plenty I left out about how Amazon links accounts. What these precautions do is tell Amazon that you are an outside vendor. Assuming you are not doing bad things inside these accounts, you should greatly reduce your chances of being linked to your clients in a negative way. You are still linked to your clients no matter what if you access their accounts. it’s just that Amazon understands who you are and what you are doing.

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