How to spot a customer service scam

How to spot a customer service scam


When George Hart obtained an e-mail saying there had been fraudulent exercise on his PayPal account, the 76-year-old knew to not take the message at its phrase.

So he logged into his PayPal account, and once more the supposed price was $699.99 for a supplier he had by no means heard of. An accompanying message mentioned the cost can be posted to his account if he didn’t name customer support inside the subsequent 24 hours. So he known as the quantity within the message.

The individual he spoke with urged Hart to put in an app known as TeamViewer, he mentioned. When he began seeing new home windows flashing throughout his display regardless that he wasn’t even touching the mouse, Hart leaned underneath his desk and unplugged the pc.

It might have saved him from a extra critical rip-off. The fraudster had used a request for PayPal cash to trick Hart into considering a cost had been made to his account, then tricked him into putting in an utility that allowed distant entry to a pc. Hart used antivirus software program to reset his pc and purge it of malware put in by the crooks, he mentioned.

Payment apps permits you to ship cash on the contact of a button. Sadly, this makes it fertile floor for scammers. This week Assist Desk heard from two readers who had run-ins with PayPal scammers. Hart ended the interplay earlier than the scammers might additional compromise his accounts. One other individual, Cynthia Parker, 65, of Columbia, Mo., misplaced about $1,400 after speaking to a scammer posing as a PayPal customer support worker.

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PayPal ended up reimbursing Parker after being contacted by The Washington Submit. However typically, when you ship cash to a cost app, it is gone.

“We now have robust controls in place to handle these well-known phishing scams and mitigate a lot of these incidents,” PayPal mentioned. “However, we encourage clients to at all times be vigilant on-line and to contact customer support straight if they believe they’re the goal of a rip-off.”

Here is what to search for should you obtain an surprising receipt or invoice, or end up on the telephone with a sketchy “customer support consultant.”

Get customer support numbers from official web sites

Deal with each telephone quantity as a possible rip-off threat. Even when the quantity is from an official-looking e-mail or textual content, test it towards the contact quantity listed on the corporate’s web site earlier than calling.

Sort telephone numbers as an alternative of clicking hyperlinks

On-line hyperlinks can take you wherever a foul actor needs you to go. Moderately than counting on “name” buttons, discover official customer support numbers and manually enter them into your telephone, suggested Jerome Segura, senior director of menace intelligence at cybersecurity agency Malwarebytes. Double-check that you simply typed it appropriately earlier than logging in, as many scammers arrange single-digit telephone numbers of frequent helplines after which depend on “fats fingering” or lazy typing to carry up calls. victims, Segura mentioned.

Watch out for sponsored search outcomes

Simply because an internet web page or telephone quantity seems on the high of search engine outcomes doesn’t suggest it is authentic. We reported on scams seem within the high outcomes on Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo.

Scams appear at the top of online searches

“Anybody should buy an advert and declare to be a given firm,” Segura mentioned.

That is how Parker thinks she ended up on-line with somebody who ultimately compromised her PayPal account and stole the cash, she mentioned. She typed “eBay customer support” into Google and known as the primary quantity that got here up. When she advised the individual on-line that she wanted to reverse a PayPal cost to an eBay vendor, she supplied to place them in contact with PayPal help in the event that they stayed on-line. (Keep in mind: Firms shouldn’t be capable of entry one other firm’s telephone or cost methods.)

Google mentioned it was preventing advert fraud by strengthening its advert verification and rip-off detection.

By no means obtain a distant entry device

Except you’re employed with a trusted colleague or IT skilled, by no means set up new apps or applications whereas on the telephone with a supposed customer support agent.

Hart and Parker had been advised they wanted to obtain apps for distant entry to their computer systems, they mentioned. Apps like AnyDesk and TeamViewer are authentic instruments for help professionals, Segura mentioned, however there are only a few eventualities the place a customer support agent legitimately wants distant entry to your pc. At worst, these apps might assist hackers break into financial institution accounts or steal different delicate info. That is why this explicit rip-off helps fraudsters steal bigger sums sooner, he added.

If somebody asks you to obtain an app or on-line device, inform them to hold up and do a little analysis, Segura mentioned. Discover the identify of the app and ensure it doesn’t grant distant entry and isn’t related to scams. If the agent appears pushy or tries to maintain you on the telephone, that is trigger for suspicion.

Keep in mind that suppliers might ship you messages

On apps resembling PayPal or Money App, strangers can ship you cash requests. Take into account that, as with Hart, a request for cash doesn’t imply a transaction is pending – it will probably solely be accomplished should you approve it.

Watch out for any e-mail or message claiming you should cancel a transaction, renew a subscription, or examine for potential fraud. It is simple for dangerous actors to steal model logos and different visible parts that make a pretend e-mail look actual, Segura mentioned. By no means name a buyer help quantity that is available in an e-mail. Take an in depth take a look at the sender’s e-mail handle and, if it appears actual, contact the corporate straight by calling the quantity on their web site.

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