BBB ON HOMES Steer clear of customer service scam artists
When you dial customer support, be sure to double or triple check the phone number. This crafty con, often called “fat finger dialing,” can potentially target anyone calling for customer service assistance. Scammers are buying phone numbers similar to the customer support numbers of major companies and fooling those who accidentally misdial.
The scam follows a similar pattern. You need to reach customer support for help with a product or service. You find the number on a recent bill, the back of your credit card or even the company’s website and dial it.
An automated message tells you that you’ve been selected to receive a gift card.
Because you dialed the number, you assume that the gift card offer must be the real deal, so you stay on the line and speak to a “representative.” This person claims to need your name, address and credit card number in order to process your new gift card. Just hang up the phone. There is no free gift card. Sharing your personal information with scammers opens you up to fraudulent charges or even identity theft.
As usual, this scam has many different versions. Some individuals are targeted by this scam when trying to reach their credit card company, but scammers impersonate other entities, too, ranging from utility companies or government agencies like the IRS. Other versions of fat-finger-dialing cons use free giveaways or phony surveys instead of a gift card.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas offers the following tips to avoid this type of scam:
Be careful when searching for support phone numbers. Unfortunately, scammers also love to post phony customer support numbers online. This means you need to use extra caution when you get in touch with customer service. Double check the URL on the website when looking up a number. When you find the correct number, make sure you dial it correctly as well.
When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the giveaway is a scam, this is likely to reveal an alert or bring you to the organization’s real website, where they may have posted further information.
Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. Businesses typically give out small discounts to entice customers. If the offer seems too good to be true (a $100 voucher or 50 percent discount) it may be a scam.
To report a scam, you may visit BBB Scam Tracker at BBBHouston.org/ScamTracker.
The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail email@example.com. Include your mailing address and phone number.