Multiple Amazon Accounts: What’s Happening and What You Should Do

Amazon is getting harder on sellers with multiple accounts. Here’s what you need to get approval and avoid being flagged for investigation.

This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com. ecommerceChris shows Amazon sellers how to keep their accounts healthy, or, if the worst should happen, how to get their account back from a suspension.

UPDATE February 2018: This second edition has been fully reviewed and revised.

Do you have anything to declare?

This is what travelers are asked whenever they pass through Customs at airports around the world. Amazon is asking you this too, if you have more than one account. Which one is it? What’s the email associated with it, so we can have a look and decide if you need it?

If you don’t declare items to customs and they find them later, you pay more, right?

The same principle applies here. Amazon are regularly sending messages to sellers who they suspect of having multiple accounts, but they’re doing more than looking for a confession. They’re sending a warning shot prior to taking more aggressive actions, if past policy matters are any guide.

The multiple Amazon selling accounts notice

Amazon’s notifications are usually along these lines:

Subject: Multiple Accounts Policy

Dear Seller,

Amazon’s policies prohibit a seller from operating or maintaining multiple accounts; however, we understand that in certain circumstances, sellers may need to own multiple accounts.

We would like to ask you a few questions:

  • Do you have multiple Amazon selling accounts?
  • Have you opened or operated more than one seller account in the past?
  • In addition to your seller account, do any other members of your household also have a seller account?

In order to protect your account, please reply to this email with the following information:

  • The email address(es) associated with each account you own
  • The email address(es) associated with each account owned by members of your household other than yourself
  • The reason(s) why you need each account

If you own just one account, have never owned more than one account in the past, and no one else in your household has or has had an account, please disregard this notice.

Why are Amazon sending these messages? Why do they care if someone has a second selling account?

Amazon wants control over who can have another account, instead of leaving it open to debate, discussion, and a seller’s own decision or judgment. They appear keen to find any unapproved accounts that could spell competitive advantage for sellers looking to game the system. They’re also looking to reduce unnecessary work reviewing extra accounts in the future.

You can reduce your chances of getting this notification, and be in a strong position to respond if you do receive it, if you:

  • Get approval for multiple accounts in advance
  • Avoid being associated with accounts that have no connection to you

I’ll cover those now.

Getting approval for multiple Amazon accounts

First, consider the reasons why you really need another account. Do you have different business entities that genuinely need separate accounts, or do you just want to keep categories or inventory apart from each other?

I worked on the Seller Performance queues as an Amazon account investigator for almost six years. I reviewed appeals from sellers to open second and sometimes even third accounts, sometimes dozens in a single day. Some were from sellers who really needed another account to operate their business effectively, and some were from sellers who were looking to add one as a contingency.

Many never understood, when their appeal was denied, that opening a second account has nothing to do with protecting them from losing the first. Our SOPs gave us guidelines to measure a seller’s real need for opening a second account, but we were also allowed to make judgment calls based on the particular details of each individual case. Requests were not simply rubber stamped, or decided just on having the “correct” wording.

So, understand how Seller Performance evaluates these requests, but also keep in mind that each one is decided on a case-by-case basis. It’s tempting to use groups or forums to compare your request to other sellers, but remember that the decision involves your unique account history and business situation.

Legitimate business reasons

You need to specify “legitimate business reasons” for a separate account and email Seller Performance requesting approval.

What’s considered legitimate? You need to show a significant business need for separate operations of different businesses, or a need to separate inventory or accounting processes, and also demonstrate that the different businesses don’t share financial or tax ID information.

Amazon is interested in preventing unfair competitive advantage across all categories. Sharing inventory, suppliers, and locations or sign-ins won’t be a good idea if you have two accounts doing more or less the same work. Having a different bank account, a different name on the account, or different physical addresses is not enough. You must demonstrate entirely unrelated operations and an understandable reason why you need them to function apart from each other. Anything else will be thought of as an excuse and means extra work for them.

Some sellers will be granted another account if they’ve performed well on the first one, and if they have a strong presence in two categories. But you will NOT be granted many accounts if you sell in many categories. That is way too much work for Seller Performance to handle.

Do’s and dont’s

Don’t ask for another account when you have a recent metrics miss, lots of recent policy violations, Notice Claims of infringements piling up, or anything similar. They’ll think you’re trying to compensate for trouble on one account by arranging a back-up plan.

If you are granted permission for multiple accounts, you must get it in writing from Seller Performance! In my time at Amazon, when I approved requests for second accounts, I made sure to annotate each one, stating the other account was OK’d. In the absence of that wording, future investigators may conclude that the seller took it upon themselves to open additional accounts for their own reasons.

A conversation with a Business Development rep or anyone in Seller Support will not be accepted as proof. The only way to know or prove that Amazon actually annotated your account with their approval, is to produce the email they sent you assuring you that they have done so.

Avoiding “false positive” detections of multiple accounts

If you have what they call a “dormant” or inactive account that you have not used in a long time, I recommend you terminate it. Then it will not show up as a related and potentially active account. They can see you haven’t used it in a while, but why take a chance?

If you have family or friends signing in from your location, or even selling from the same house, ensure you have enough data reflecting different people, companies and operations to distinguish the accounts from each other. Amazon will already have seen that these accounts are potentially connected, in most cases, and may be ready to act on it if they consider them to be too similar to each other. Amazon’s tools pick up layers of overlap between accounts, so separate your operations and think ahead. For example, when it comes to item type, be sure that you’re not selling the same, or similar, items from the same location.

Never offer or agree to help other sellers with setting up their accounts. IP hits are not the sole criteria for making a determination that two accounts are related, but it’s an excellent start. If you also sell in the same category (what Amazon investigators call “IT,” or item type), then you’re well on your way to looking like you share operations with the companies behind those accounts.

Don’t set up partnerships, incorporate your business, or make any other structural changes, before considering what Seller Performance will flag as “shared operations”. They will not lose a lot of sleep after deciding you’re related to another active account. If you look related in the tools, you might as well be related in real life.

Where Does that Leave You?

Think you can outwit the Amazon tools for detecting related accounts?

You can try that out, but if there are consequences later, embrace those as tightly as you have the effort to evade Amazon’s tools. Asking “how will they know?” has rarely worked long-term in the past. Don’t try it now, either.

Anyone with approved accounts established for valid business and legal reasons should have no problem providing email addresses and details about such accounts. Everyone else needs to decide what kind of risk they want to take.

If you want to stay off the radar, secondary accounts and accounts in the same household should not sell the same products. Best practice is to sell in different categories or create different companies, at different addresses, that have no overlaps at all. Not even sign-ins at the same location or computer.

Likewise, accounts that were established to create a backup plan just in case you’re suspended should not be in operation. Take the hint and move it on out of existence. If you have orders to fulfill, by all means do so. But do not leave active listings up solely because no one has yet bothered you about running two accounts.

This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com. Chris can be contacted via ecommerceChris.com.

48 comments on “Multiple Amazon Accounts: What’s Happening and What You Should Do

  1. I have 10 Amazon stealth accounts and Amazon can go FT – untrustworthy and suspend accounts at a moments notice.

    If you have any business sense you will create those stealth accounts asap – always ways around the system!

      1. Never had an account closed and don’t intend to. I’ve read enough horror stories though to know though that Amazon only cares about themselves – not us their guinea pig sellers they use for market research.

        I used to be a cyber security expert – I know how computers and networks work.

        Not that much work to be honest keeping them going- less risk and more peace of mind- multiple revenue streams and multiple products.

        If I showed you my monthly sales – you would do the same.

        1. I would really be nice if you can show me how to open an amazon account, I had one few years ago and was suspended and I can’t open one now what is the best way to go around that, thank for your time

          1. Hi, the purpose of their policies and their tools is to keep sellers who are suspended from simply starting over with a fresh account. Hence, the messaging indicating accounts are closed for relations to a previous block. You were meant to appeal the prior suspension and focus on why it happened, and what you’d do differently if given another chance. Not to start fresh. I can’t help show you how to get around policy, I’m afraid. Appeal the original.

  2. Hi,
    we are agency from Prague and we opened like 10 AMZ account for our clients. Naturally they dont know English, we are experts etc. It is true some of them were closed without warning recently and we try to appeal to the Performance team.

    Is there any tip how to manage accounts as agency? I believe we felt down into this multiple accounts thread yet I feel we have all the legitimacy to run the accounts for our clients- we even add written deputy for each accounts when we are establishing them.

    would welcome any help of tips.

    1. Can’t advise you without knowing more about how you access accounts or how similar their sourcing or inventory are. If you access multiple accounts and they share relations beyond sign ins you likely are causing multiple to appear related.

  3. Me and my husband are both selling from the same household, but via different corporations and use unrelated ASIN’s. Our companies and products we sell are honestly not related in any way shape or form, but we sell in the same general “category”. What would be the way “to demonstrate entirely unrelated operations”? What list of documents can we provide so they allow us to keep selling? Thanks a lot for this article Chris, your input would be of great help!

  4. Looks like the story is only going to have more accounts opening for the same sellers.
    I wonder if this was Amazons reason for it. Boost the bottom line with more stores?
    Interesting.

  5. I use multiple Amazon accounts that were set up by Auction Essistance because Amazon had banned my personal one. It does help you move a lot of inventory and minimize the risk of getting suspended if you know how to use them, but Amazon is very strict so it is hard to tell what could change that can throw everything off course.

  6. Hi Megan, I’ve not heard of Auction Essistance, but when these accounts were set up were they approved by Seller Performance? Or established unilaterally?

    You said they banned your personal one, then set up other accounts, which means there was something that got around the tools and the accounts were not considered related. Sounds like it worked, but will it always work? They may have overlooked something on one go-round. Why was the first account banned? They don’t really measure personal versus other kinds of accounts, they care if the same person or people is operating an account related to one that was closed. They want control over that decision.

    1. Auction Assistance is no good they sold me accounts that were suspended, and they charged me for 2 accounts i never got

      1. Hi, I haven’t heard of that company but obviously what they are doing is outside of policy. Buying accounts that are suspended, or active, is itself something Amazon is trying to prevent.

  7. I’m starting work as a consultant in multiple seller central accounts. Is it necessary for me to have a separate email for each account, or is it possible for the merchants to invite me with a single email.

  8. I had an old Amazon seller account with my email address. How can I reactivate with the same email? It wont let me. Its my buyer email too.

  9. Hi Chris MCCabe,

    Thanks for the article. My wife has a registered business that manufactures toys and she has been selling her toys on Amazon for 6 years. I have recently opened my own seller account selling pet products. Now I am paranoid that Amazon will spot the two accounts and question them.

    We both log in to our accounts from home. I think her seller account is registered to her separate Business Address; mine is registered to our home address.

    In order to to avoid the risk of my wife’s account being suspended I have been advised to shut my account down and then apply for special consideration when setting up a new seller account from scratch.

    Is there a way of avoiding this? I have already made my listing ‘inactive’ and am thinking of opening a case log to plead my case now without closing my account. I believe we have genuine reasons to require two separate seller accounts, but I am very concerned that opening a case could trigger exactly the account closure that I am trying to avoid?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards

    Daniel

  10. Hi there,
    my case is having multiple accounts at the same time. The reason I opened another account is that when I first started I just wanted to test the water a bit and listed a few items that I did not have inventory. And I got sales from those listing. however, I had to cancel on the buyers. With that being said, I got some negative reviews. That’s why I wanted to start over. So I opened another account and made a couple of thousands before my account got suspended. My question to you is that I don’t want to start again with my first account with negative reviews. However, I just sent my first inventory to the warehouse last week and found out my listing is not active due to my selling privilege has been removed, but I am not either banned or suspended on that account. Right now I am tired of contacting Amazon. I kinda just want to close this account and open another new open legally. What can I do? thank you.

  11. Hi. Not following. So you abandoned an account with poor ratings trying to start over ( there is no compliant way to start over like this) and created a new account that they haven’t suspended, they don’t consider them related maybe? They would normally close it for related to the bad performance account. Not much to contact them for if they are allowing it right?

  12. Hello, we would like to open another seller account for different business i own, i have one account in good health with no issues and we just started a new business (Different Tax ID, Different Bank, Different product category) and i would like to contact amazon to obtain an approval. is there a preferred method of contacting amazon? specific department? any help will be appreciated.

    1. You’d contact Seller Performance, but make sure you show them a real and legitimate need for a second account, not solely that you started a new and separate business.

  13. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the article. I’m part of a boutique consulting firm that manages Amazon sales for clients. They already have established accounts, but I access them from the same IP address for management purposes. Any concern there?

    Thanks in advance!
    Emily

  14. Hi Emily. I’d be pretty careful how you do that. Of course consultants will be connected to multiple accounts that they work on, and those sign ins will be seen to be IP hits only as long as you’re not selling yourself or working with sellers that are all selling the same item type. Are these only IP hits in the tools or more?

    1. Chris,

      We have our own Amazon business, which is how we gained the expertise for consulting. As for our clients, they are in different categories (completely different business entities, manufacturing processes, etc etc etc.)

      We do manage their listings for them, so we make updates there, we handle customer service, and then of course we access the business reports as well.

      Is this something that we should be proactively letting Amazon know about, or simply ready to response if we were to ever get an inquiry like the one you referenced in your article?

      I’d rather not try using VPN’s, VPS’s etc, as I feel like that’s acting in a shady way as though we are doing something wrong; when in fact everything we are doing is 100% above board.

      Appreciate your input!
      Emily

      1. you don’t need to use VPNs for this, no. It sounds like they won’t overlap much if the item types are different, selling in different categories, etc. There are consultants out there who are helping sellers, managing accounts handling CS, of course. But what sometimes trips them up is if they are sellers themselves and may overlap by selling similar products. It doesn’t come up with me since I’m not a seller, and have no selling history. That’s where you might want to get your own account annotated.

        1. Hi Chris,

          Who would I contact at Amazon to have my account annotated?
          Just open a case with Seller Central support?

          Thank you!

  15. Can you tell me if its safe to log on using a proxy new ip address never logged into my account.

    I have an account that was suspended but another that was not–I use a MIFI to access that—would it be ok to log on using a proxy new ip

  16. Hey Chris, I´ve opened three month ago a second Amazon account for my new company (different category, different business). Three weeks ago my second account seems to be suspended, because I can not log in anymore. The first one still exists. I did´t get the permission from performance department before opening the second account. I actually didn´t know that it is necessary. I still don´t understand why you need the permission if it is different company in a different category. Do you think the first account could be suspended as well? Would you contact the performance team now to clarify or is it a bad idea, since the first one is still there? I don´t want risk the closing of the first account, because this is a big company with many employees.

    1. Hello, I have also same issue. First I open one Account for my company where I working and I update all details about my company and only primary contact details is only mine that is my name only and my personal number. Than After 2 month I opened my personal account with my personal details of all. And after 1 month they suspend both account even they both are different with details for registration documents. Can anyone guide How I can give trust to Amazon that I have one account and also I will not continue this in future.

      1. These two accounts, based on what you wrote here, would definitely appear related in the tools. That’s where they are mostly looking, their online tools to gauge who is related to whom. They’re not going to ask for a lot of supporting docs in a lot of cases.

        Make sure you keep everything separate in the future, don’t simply fill out forms without thinking how you may be impacted if you open your own account. Why did the original suspension happen? Get one account back, then reinstate the other.

  17. It’s not typical to have the second account closed where you cannot even sign in, you’ll want to try to figure out why that happened. Could be an account compromise, a bank details switch, or something else, but they should have simply warned you for the second account. You should not lose access to it just because it’s closed.

    The reason for the policy is that they want to be the ones to decide if the other account is different enough from the first, not you. There’s no way of knowing if the first account could be impacted unless you know why the second account was closed, although my sense is they would close them both in a relatively short time period if they had that intention.

    Creating a different company and you refer to as a different business isn’t enough, you need to ask Seller Performance before opening the other account for permission and establish the legitimate business need.

  18. If the reason for closing is not the multiple account thing, would you ask Amazon Performance afterwards for permission or would you close the second account, if it is possible at all? Or maybe it is possible to delete my name at the first account? The most important thing for me now is that the first account remains, no matter what it takes. I´m sorry for asking here so many questions, but I don´t know who to ask. I appreciate your help. Many thanks!!!

  19. There’s no point asking for permission now, that had to happen before you did it. There’s nothing for SP to annotate on a closed second account. They may have reviewed it for multiple accounts but like I said, bizarre that they won’t even let you sign into it. Sounds like they flagged it for a seller ID type verification and that makes life more complicated, so you’ll have to let that one go. It wasn’t approved anyway.

  20. I have written two e-mails to SP. Last one was three weeks ago. Do you think they will answer? Do you know if there is a way to get the inventory and the balance back?

  21. Chris, do you know someone, who could give consultancy in my case, how to proceed? You could send me a personal message.

  22. Chris,
    I signed up for a seller account as an FBA. Submitted ID documentation, received my welcome email, shortly after received a message saying I could not sell in amazon because my account was related to another account that could not sell. I was very surprise since this is my first seller account. Come to find out my daughter opened an account over 5 years ago but never used and forgot all about it. At the time she lived with me, but she moved out about 4 years ago. She updated her new address and sent seller support an email asking them to close the account and explained that she never used the account. Is there a chance that amazon will allow me to sell eventually?
    Thank you

  23. Hi
    A couple years back i had amazon account that was making decent amount of income. However at the time i was also studying and was dealing with loads of personal problems and pushed it aside, slowly the neglecting of the account resiulted in me getting shut down i tried appeal then and just got told no. these many years later i tried to apeal again trying to convince them why everything happend and assuring them i really need this for my own income for personal reasons but once again a big fat no!
    iv been searching all over the internet for a soloution so that i am able to start selling again on amazon. from what i have read it seems that it is possible to make these so called “stleath accounts” by having a new everything IP, MAC, ADDRESS, BANK ACCOUNT, BUSINESS ACCOUNT AND PERSONAL INFORMATION. However i have also read that as a result of the verfication its impossible to by pass some of these things like personal details as they require more proff of ID once hitting a certain bench mark of income??. is it possible to open another account at another address with a new computer under a family members name? or does nayone know how i can get back on amazon any other way! please let me know and im sure its a question that loads of people are searching the answer for as i have been for a while now!
    thanks in advance for any help!
    Jimmy

  24. Hi Chris and All,

    I am having a similar situation with Rose. I created an account and submitted documents to Amazon and got a big NO. They also responded with another NO when I appealed.
    I guessed it was because I used the sample international deposit bank account with my brother. Is there any chance that I register again (with a different email address but same detail for others). I already asked Amazon to close account but they haven’t responded yet to my case.

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