Technology makes life easier.
While preparing for a new day you can ask your electronic assistant for a weather forecast. While driving, you can ask your car to call a friend. Need reservations at that popular new restaurant? You ask your personal assistant to get you squared away.
But with that convenience comes some peril.
Criminals continue to advance their techniques and introduce new alternatives in their scams. Jeff Taylor, head of commercial fraud forensics for Regions Bank
There are new warnings about using voice-activated smart devices to call business numbers. These devices have tons of information to choose from, but they occasionally default to the latest algorithm, which just may lead to a “customer-service representative” created by a scammer.
In the case of the voice search scam, your call is directed to a fraudster whose sole intention is to get your personal information or access your accounts. There may be red flags but remember, these are scammers trained to come across like actual customer service reps.
“Criminals continue to advance their techniques and introduce new alternatives in their scams,” said Jeff Taylor, head of commercial fraud forensics for Regions Bank. “It helps to be fraud aware.”
According to the Better Business Bureau, these scams are growing. A recent example: a victim used a voice search on his phone to reach an airline company service line. Instead, the call was directed to a scammer who got a $125 fee out of the customer in order to cancel a flight. Not only was the flight not canceled, but the “fee” was gone for good.
To make matters worse, the scammer had access to the victim’s credit card number.
4 Tips to Avoid Voice Search Scams
Thankfully, the BBB offers four steps to avoid becoming the next victim of voice search scams:
- Be careful when searching for support phone numbers
Rather than doing an online search or letting your smart device look up a number, use the contact information on the business’ website (always double check the URL) on your bill, receipt, or in your confirmation email.
- Beware of fake ads
Scammers create bad ads with fake customer service numbers. Using voice search to find a number can make it harder to tell a phony listing from the real one. Get your information from the official company website or official correspondence.
- Go straight to the source
For example, if you need to contact a retailer, use their mobile app or website. This goes whether you’re seeking customer service, tech support, or when looking to make changes to your account.
- Make payments with your credit card
It’s easier to dispute a credit card payment. Paying by wire transfer or pre-paid debit card is like using cash. There is almost nothing you can do to get the money back.
“Going straight to the source is the best advice before making a call,” Taylor added. “While it might make sense to do an internet search for a phone number, we still see a lot of spoofed websites that look like legitimate companies.”
Want more protection? The Federal Trade Commission offers great advice on how to secure your internet-connected devices at home. It’s worth a read.
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The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.