Next time you want to send a present to someone whose address you don't have, you might not have to sneakily ask their roommates for help. Amazon announced a new feature Monday that will allow Amazon Prime members to buy gifts for other people with only a phone number or email address.
Here's how it works: Prime members will be able to browse millions of products that are available to gift on Amazon's shopping app, select the option to add a gift receipt for returns and — when they check out — choose to let the recipient provide their own shipping address. The recipient will then get a message via email or text asking if they want to accept the gift and provide their own delivery address from their own Amazon account.
Recipients can also opt to swap the item(s) for an Amazon gift card and purchase something else without letting the giver know.
The feature will start to roll out on mobile devices Monday for U.S. members with an Amazon Prime account, which is an estimated 153 million users.
This new gift-giving option comes as companies and their customers are struggling with supply shortages and shipping delays. The supply chain — which includes everything that goes into getting a product made, stored, shipped and to customers — is overwhelmed due to limited space on shipping containers, a labor shortage and COVID-19-induced factory shutdowns. The issues are driving up prices and causing shortages. Experts have been warning shoppers since the summer that they need to start their holiday shopping ASAP. Popular gifts like toys will be harder to find and more expensive, too.
On top of these shopping challenges, the Delta variant of COVID-19 likely has many shoppers hesitant to head to crowded stores this year. Being able to easily send gifts with just the click of a button — and without the hassle of having to find someone's delivery address — could be appealing.
But there may be concerns with the new feature, too. An email address or phone number is pretty easy to find nowadays. What if a recipient doesn't want to get gift notifications from senders who don't have access to their delivery address?
The gift notices do expire and can be deleted if not desired by the recipient, Amazon spokesman Craig Andrews told Money via email. And "any activity that violates our community guidelines (which includes sending unwanted gifts) would be reviewed and the account acted on, if necessary," Andrews added.
Amazon's announcement also coincides with an uptick in spam texts and robo calls. Scammers seem to be getting smarter every day. Fraudsters typically kick into high gear around the holidays, so if you receive a notification from Amazon asking for your delivery address, make sure it's actually from Amazon.
For help, read Money's tips for avoiding phishing scams.