Amazon closed my Associates account - strange reason

27 replies
Email from Amazon:

Dear Associate,

Your Associates account has come up for review in connection with our ongoing monitoring of the Amazon Associates Program. During our review, we have determined that you are not in compliance with the Operating Agreement that governs your participation in the Associates Program and your Associates Program account has been closed. You will not receive further payment of advertising fees.

You are not in compliance with Participation Requirement Number 21, because your Special Links are being used in connection with malware, spyware, or any other software application not knowingly authorized by users prior to being downloaded or installed on their computer or other electronic device.

You can find the complete terms of the Operating Agreement, including the Participation Requirements and Linking Requirements, via this link:
https://affiliate-program.amazon.com...ates/agreement.

We ask that you immediately remove all Amazon Content from your site(s). Any other accounts you have or may open in the future may be closed and you will not receive any advertising fees. We reserve all other rights and claims we may have.

Warmest Regards,

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/associates
Rule 21:

21. You will not include on your site, display, or otherwise use Special Links or Content in connection with any spyware, malware, virus, worm, Trojan horse, or other malicious or harmful code, or any software application not expressly and knowingly authorized by users prior to being downloaded or installed on their computer or other electronic device.
I emailed them for clarification, but I thought maybe you guys would have some insight as to what might cause this. I've never done anything shady on my two sites promoting Amazon products (nor with my other sites, for that matter). No malware or misleading links or anything like that. I ran some malware scans online and they didn't find anything.

I can only guess it's some javascript they don't like? Or maybe some other site grabbed my links and is promoting them with malware to try to get me in trouble? I did have an unusual number of clicks a few days last week in my Associates dashboard that I can't account for.

Any ideas?
#account #amazon #associates #closed #reason #strange
  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    Well. Why don't you tell us what you might think is causing this. Either you are linking according to their rules or you are not. Describe how you are linking. what are you doing that is unique to the basic way of linking.

    al
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  • Profile picture of the author ANDREIS
    Well, if you haven't been using your links for any suspicious activity, then your links or your whole hosting account has been hacked. First you should change your hosting account password, your FTP password. Then you should completely remove all your website's files from the server. Delete everything. Then upload your local files to the server. Once your site is fully uploaded to your hosting account you contact Amazon and explain that you never intended to do anything wrong, say that your site has been completely deleted and uploaded again.

    When you are approved use Amazon links just as they are provided to you in your Amazon associates account, don't change anything. Be careful not to be hacked again. Don't download suspicious file that may contain spy software, also don't leave your passwords anywhere online where someone may get them. Amazon won't ban your account just like that, it's your responsibility to do all the things that guarantee your website's and your links' security.
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  • Profile picture of the author davejarvys
    Some free WordPress themes come with malware in them.
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    • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
      Originally Posted by davejarvys View Post

      Some free WordPress themes come with malware in them.
      Generally "free" themes don't come with malware - "stolen" themes do tend to come with malware.
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    Here's some more info. Sorry, I didn't think to include these details in the OP.

    Both are WP sites using a modified Twenty Sixteen theme, although I was just about to upgrade one site to a premium theme I'm configuring.

    I use the amzn.to short URLs I generate from the header bar on amazon.com and use it as text links or image links. It's been a few years, so maybe I have some old link that they don't like the format of? I did take some product images of theirs to use as image links, but I believe that's ok? And they're specifically referencing malware as the reason.

    I can only guess the malware they think they see could be a WP plugin? I do have a lot of plugins. But I only go with plugins that are from wordpress.org or Codecanyon and have a ton of downloads and good reviews.

    There's no other sign I can find that my sites have been compromised. I couldn't find anything with a couple free online website scanners. I'm cool with paying for a good scanning service if it makes sense and there's one you recommend.
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    I think I figured it out! I had a downloadable PDF with affiliate links in it, which violated a different requirement, but I'm thinking it's most likely what triggered their system. So we'll see if they are willing to re-evaluate my account...
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  • Profile picture of the author piperp
    Do you have a lot of money in your Amazon account? Are you contacting them by email? did they respond yet? Just curious...
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    They replied and reiterated with another form letter:

    You are not in compliance with Participation Requirement Number 21, because the traffic you are buying is generated in a way that violates the Associates Program Operating Agreement. We have found that your Special Links are being used in connection with malware or adware. Participation Requirement Number 21 of the Associates Program Participation Requirements states:

    “You will not include on your site, display, or otherwise use Special Links or Content in connection with any spyware, malware, virus, worm, Trojan horse, or other malicious or harmful code, or any software application not expressly and knowingly authorized by users prior to being downloaded or installed on their computer or other electronic device.”
    I still have no idea what they're talking about. The only places I buy traffic from is Adwords and Facebook, but even those don't go to my blog sites, they go to an ecommerce store and the users could get to one of the blogs through there. I don't have any connection with spammy sites or any software. My two computers are both free of malware.

    Amazon won't give me any more details.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    the traffic you are buying is generated in a way that violates the Associates Program Operating Agreement.
    How hard is this to figure out?

    You've never heard the terms "Adsense safe", "Amazon safe" ??

    You purchased some "cheap" traffic and now you are paying the real price for it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Burak Sen
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      How hard is this to figure out?

      You've never heard the terms "Adsense safe", "Amazon safe" ??

      You purchased some "cheap" traffic and now you are paying the real price for it.
      What do you mean? How come cheap traffic can result in virus injection into website links.
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      How hard is this to figure out?

      You've never heard the terms "Adsense safe", "Amazon safe" ??

      You purchased some "cheap" traffic and now you are paying the real price for it.
      Adwords and Facebook are ok, right? I actually haven't gotten ad clicks from Facebook for months. I have a few clicks per day from Bing ads too. A couple years ago I bought PPC from a few top comparison shopping engines like Nextag, but they were all too expensive and I haven't done that since.

      Actually no, I've never heard the terms Adsense safe or Amazon safe. I don't shop for any service where that would be a concern, I assume some black hat services. 80-90% of my traffic is google organic and "direct", returning visitors I guess.

      When I got their first email I read over their requirements again and realized that the PDF ebook of a few blog posts I had made a few weeks ago included some tagged Amazon links. So I fixed that and followed up with Amazon. Their email this morning seems to indicate that this wasn't the issue. I was pretty sure it wasn't, because zero people had downloaded the PDF, but I told them anyway just in case.

      Every once in a while in my Analytics reports I'll see a single visitor from some site such as "24x7-server-support.site" that I don't know anything about, but I've assumed that everyone gets a few spammers like that trying to advertise their url in web traffic reports.

      Anyway, it sounds like they think I'm buying traffic from some malware service. If I was doing anything like that I'd assume that was it and I'd stop it. I just have no idea.

      I've never even hired anyone to do SEO for me. I've never bought or traded for any spammy links anywhere.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Brent's answer makes the most sense.

    One way some operators can profit from "cheap" non-bot traffic is to use a pop-under window or similar device, and code it with an automatic download when the window gets focus. The most common download I've come across is one of the adware toolbars which pay per install or download.

    They deliver the traffic by getting people to either install their app or buy ad space on the site, then load your site in the pop-under. When the viewer closes the main window, the pop gets focus and the download begins in the background.

    If you are in the USA, pick up the telephone and call them. If you keep emailing, you'll keep getting form letters from frontline people.

    If this is what happened, you may have a tough time getting the account reopened, but you might be able to reapply.
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

      Brent's answer makes the most sense.

      One way some operators can profit from "cheap" non-bot traffic is to use a pop-under window or similar device, and code it with an automatic download when the window gets focus. The most common download I've come across is one of the adware toolbars which pay per install or download.

      They deliver the traffic by getting people to either install their app or buy ad space on the site, then load your site in the pop-under. When the viewer closes the main window, the pop gets focus and the download begins in the background.

      If you are in the USA, pick up the telephone and call them. If you keep emailing, you'll keep getting form letters from frontline people.

      If this is what happened, you may have a tough time getting the account reopened, but you might be able to reapply.
      The only pop-up I have is a delayed opt-in popup. The code is straight from AWeber.

      I just had a thought - I use onesignal.com for having users opt in to push notifications, with their WP plugin. That brings in a handful of return visitors every week. Maybe that's it?? But tons of reputable sites use push notifications, so I kind of doubt it.

      One of my sites has PDF books that users get the link to by opting into the email list. No software. No auto downloads or pop under windows.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by squeebo View Post

        The only pop-up I have is a delayed opt-in popup. The code is straight from AWeber.

        I just had a thought - I use onesignal.com for having users opt in to push notifications, with their WP plugin. That brings in a handful of return visitors every week. Maybe that's it?? But tons of reputable sites use push notifications, so I kind of doubt it.

        One of my sites has PDF books that users get the link to by opting into the email list. No software. No auto downloads or pop under windows.
        The push notifications plugin might be the culprit - something specific to ask Amazon about.

        The pops I was talking about wouldn't be on your site. They would be on other sites that are running an advertising app for money. In other words, you order traffic, they put the popunders on other sites and load your page(s), thus "sending you traffic". Doesn't sound like that's the case.
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    Amazon said this morning that I've been sending traffic to my site using instantdealfinder.com, a known malware site, and that the decision to close my account is final.

    I have never used that site. Amazon gave me a link where my website is listed there, and it promises a 20% off coupon code for my store. For one thing, I never create any 20% off coupons because that's more than my whole margin, but I'm not going to download their software to find out what it is. Second, their site doesn't even work. You can't log in, search, use the menu, anything.

    A few years ago I did go to a few top coupon sites to create some codes and share. It never amounted to more than a few clicks here and there, and I believe it was almost entirely customers who were already about to check out on my site and decided to search for a coupon first. I haven't bothered with it since.

    Yesterday there was a single visitor from instantdealfinder.com, presumably from the Amazon person who was messing with that site.

    It looks like all they did was mine some outdated data from some coupon site, including an old logo I haven't used for two years.

    They ended their email with this:
    We have confirmed that the decision to close your Associates Program account and withhold fees is final, and you are no longer eligible to participate in the Associates Program. We ask that you immediately remove all Amazon Content from your site(s). We reserve all other rights and claims we may have. Any other accounts you have or may open in the future may be closed and advertising fees withheld without further notice.

    Please understand that this decision is final, and any further requests to review your account or unpaid fees for reinstatement will not receive a response.
    What kind of BS is this? I'm totally innocent of what they're accusing me of, they won't email about it anymore, and they won't talk to me on the phone, and they're demanding I remove all links to Amazon on my site.

    Maybe there's a mailing address I can send a letter to? Other than that, I have no idea what to do.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by squeebo View Post

      What kind of BS is this? I'm totally innocent of what they're accusing me of, they won't email about it anymore, and they won't talk to me on the phone, and they're demanding I remove all links to Amazon on my site.

      Maybe there's a mailing address I can send a letter to? Other than that, I have no idea what to do.
      I feel for you. Something similar happened to my Adsense account several years ago. Google told me that even though I might not have been directly responsible for suspicious clicks, my site still represented a danger to their advertisers, and my account would remain closed. Sounds like Amazon is taking the same approach.

      You, personally, might be innocent. But your site still represents a risk to them.

      You can try mailing or calling, but at this point, it likely won't do any good.

      I'm sure some of our more ethically challenged members will suggest sneaky ways to try opening a new account. It might even work for a short while. But Amazon didn't get to be Amazon by being stupid or easy to trick. And when they do find you, not only will you lose that account and fees, you may find out what some of those other remedies they mentioned are.

      My best suggestion is to find another source or sources, like Walmart, BestBuy, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    And look who else is listed on instantdealfinder.com. I just started going through a list of the top 20 online stores and googling:

    site:instantdealfinder.com store name


    (warning, this is a malware site, don't download anything)


    AMAZON.COM
    https://instantdealfinder.com/januar...mazon-com.html

    Best Buy
    https://instantdealfinder.com/septem...stbuy-com.html

    Walmart
    https://instantdealfinder.com/septem...lmart-com.html

    Staples
    https://instantdealfinder.com/june-2...aples-com.html

    Apple
    https://instantdealfinder.com/august...apple-com.html

    Home Depot
    https://instantdealfinder.com/june-2...depot-com.html

    QVC
    https://instantdealfinder.com/septem...0/qvc-com.html


    Is this the most retarded thing ever?
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    • Profile picture of the author zraii
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author squeebo
        Reading comprehension problems? That's not my site.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jesus Perez
    At least you're lucky enough to know what happened. Many others over the years never get an explanation or response back from Amazon after getting banned. It's definitely not fair and I'm not sure if there's any way to reopen the issue with them.
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  • Profile picture of the author cypherslock
    It is certainly a case study as to why you would not rely on one third-party service or channel for your business....
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  • Profile picture of the author domainchap
    find at least 2 drop-ship for each products you promoted,
    replace all the Amazon ads by the drop-ship templates

    you will have a better business, for the long term
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  • Profile picture of the author atrbiz
    Have you escalated the issue with an Amazon manager?
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    The saga continues. So I had the issue escalated, and below is the latest email.

    Based on your recent call in to customer service, it sounds as though you disagree with this closure and believe there might be a misunderstanding in how customers are getting to Amazon via your links. If you wish to appeal this decision, please provide us with a detailed description of the methods you are using to refer customers to the Amazon site. The description you send should include, for example, identification of the sites on which links are posted, any advertising services you are using, screenshots of your sites analytics tools that show your site traffic and its sources, the keywords you are using to drive referrals, and any other information that would be relevant to confirming the your compliance with the Operating Agreement, which can be found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com...ates/agreement.

    Additionally, please include any information you know of that breaks down the kind of traffic you may be sending to Amazon. If your traffic is predominantly from desktop computers, or from mobile devices, or from a specific browser, please include that information and explain why this is the case. Although we are not able to offer information regarding your traffic on our end, we can confirm that your traffic is very specific in regards to the kinds of devices and particular browser your customers are coming from. Any explanation of traffic would likely need to include an explanation of this in order to be considered sufficient for reinstatement
    My Analytics report would show 96% of my traffic is organic, direct, Adwords and email marketing. The remaining 4% are misc sites that send me like 1 visitor a month. It's like the most squeaky clean, poorly marketed site in all of existence.

    I don't even send them much traffic. I average 3 clicks to Amazon per day. There were 3 days in October where my Associates report says I sent them hundreds of clicks, but I have no record of that on my Analytics reports (I track outbound clicks as events), and I got no surge of traffic on my site. That's when they promptly shut down my account. I already pointed this out to them. All kinds of possibilities I guess. Manipulation, a mistake, or an error.

    So apparently this means I could find a competitor with Amazon links, hire someone on Upwork to spam one of their tagged links, and Amazon will close their account.

    Any suggestions?

    I guess I could tell them to check out their own reports to see that the traffic did not come from my website, but they seem to be so stupid I can't imagine they're capable of doing htat.

    I'm thinking at this point it's useless to waste my time on this. If by some miracle they let me back in, they'll just come up with some other bogus reason next month to shut me down. It's like they have some crazy person running the show, and then I discover someone one step up the chain of command who I can talk to, only to discover he's a retarded monkey on crack.

    I already got accepted into Walmart's program, so for those products I don't have other good affiliate vendors for and don't sell directly I should be able to use Walmart links.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Bridgen
    Amazon closed my account because My credit card was used in the USA and it got cancelled . I was told I am using a stolen card. I even got a letter from the bank saying it was my card being used by someone else. Not only did I lose my business with them I also lost all the payments paid to me for purchases made that Amazon held and never passed to me .
    So to this day I would never purchase anything from them or even use them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Obviously, someone stopped passing out clues.... Had a laugh at that post!


    I guess I could tell them to check out their own reports to see that the traffic did not come from my website, but they seem to be so stupid I can't imagine they're capable of doing htat.
    It's your choice - but you wanted a second chance to explain. You've been able to get past the front line service desk. You can tell them "look it up yourself" and "you are stupid" but that would be time wasted.

    You can ignore it and go with other programs - or you can give it a shot at providing the info Amazon wants and maybe get your acct back.

    Ball's in your court now.
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    FYI I gave them some meaningless reports and they let me open a second account. They wave their hands around, I wave my hands around, and they give me my cookie. I guess that's the language they speak.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Good for you - it's the basic "business" model...if you push enough and if your complaint is escalated to a higher level of employee at the company you have a problem with...and if they can't PROVE there was a problem to begin with...

    They can be magnanimous and 'grant' you a second chance...if you are willing to play the game to that extent by providing something they can point to as "proof". Most people decide that's too much trouble - OR those same people actually know what they did wrong to begin with....

    Hand waving and cookie are a pretty good description of that
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