Keys to the kingdom: Turn To Tara investigates Amazon delivery safety concerns

A Turn to Tara investigation is exposing safety and privacy concerns with a new delivery service run by Amazon.

News 12 Staff

Feb 10, 2022, 5:48 PM

Updated 882 days ago


A Turn to Tara investigation has revealed potential privacy and safety issues when it comes to certain Amazon deliveries.
Amazon's new delivery service has a virtual key to thousands of apartment buildings - but in some cases, it shouldn't have access.
A Westchester businessman says he has serious privacy concerns involving the popular delivery service that requires no doorbell or fobs.
Amazon's "Key For Business" device allows their drivers to gain access to your apartment buildings without having to be buzzed in. 
The new service aims to make deliveries faster and cut back on package theft.  It leaves some to wonder if their privacy is under attack.
"It's just not right to have someone walk in and have no idea who they are," says David Amster, president of Prime Locations Inc. 
Amster is a property manager and oversees one of the largest co-op buildings in Westchester County.
It was his job to figure out what went wrong last spring when hundreds of residents at Sadore Lane Gardens experienced problems granting access to their guests and food delivery drivers.
A service technician discovered radio transmitters that were installed within the intercom panel in the building.
The mystery black boxes that caused the interference were quickly identified as 'Amazon Key' devices allowing for contactless delivery - something Amster, says no one there authorized.
"It's certainly disheartening, and you know security-wise, it gives people access to the building who shouldn't be there," says Amster. 
The discovery led to a nearly $1,500 bill to clean up what the technician described as an "act of vandalism."
Amster says it became a big issue and it would also void a warranty on the intercom panels. 
He decided to get in touch with Turn To Tara after he says his concerns fell on deaf ears.
When the Turn To Tara team contacted Amazon, however, it sent an authorization form for the installation that included a signature. 
Amster said no one there signed the form, so Turn To Tara brought that to Amazon's attention. 

In response, it launched an investigation, which concluded in Amazon terminating its relationship with the third-party that set up the device. 
An Amazon spokesperson said in part, "At Amazon, we take these matters seriously. As soon as we confirmed an issue at this property, we disabled the service and terminated our relationship with the third-party installer.”
Amster is hoping they'll now cover the costs of repairs, but the question remains how many other people don't know that these devices have been installed?
Amazon confirmed there are several thousand apartment buildings across the United States enrolled but refused to answer the question how widespread the problem is.
Once News 12 started digging deeper, the Turn To Tara team heard from Lisa Espinosa, a homeowners association president who lives 2,000 miles away in Salt Lake City, Utah. 
She shared a very similar story to Amster's ordeal. 
"That black circle, that's the Amazon fob. So that's what was put there without any kind of notification. We didn't know what it was," she said, "When we asked for any information about who approved it, they stalled and we couldn't get any answers. It's a lot of following up and not getting answers and following up and not getting answers."
Beyond concerns about privacy, Espinosa and others are also worried about safety. For example, if a criminal or a hacker gains access through the device, who's responsible?
In its statement, Amazon said all Amazon Key packages are delivered by Amazon and that drivers go through comprehensive background checks.
Residents who were caught completely off guard remain livid. 

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