Online shopping has been the go-to during the coronavirus pandemic, but if you need customer service help, the Federal Trade Commission has a warning: Googling a phone number could send you right into the hands of scammers.
Most shoppers wouldn’t think twice about searching online for a store or company customer service line, but scammers have found a way to take advantage.
Some scammers are creating fake customer service information online for popular companies and paying for it to show up in your search results.
When you contact them through the contact information posted, they’ll offer to “resolve” the problem -- if you wire them money or send gift cards.
They might also ask for your personal information, or try to get remote access to your computer.
The FTC says to avoid these scams
- Check the product packaging. That’s a good source of real customer service information.
- Visit the company’s official website directly and look there for the contact information -- don’t pull it straight from a search engine result.
- If you use a search engine to find the website, double-check the URL -- a big red flag is a misspelling.
The FTC warns: never wire money, send gift cards, or give your account password in exchange for customer service help. No legitimate company will ask for that. And hang up on anyone who does.
If you spotted fake customer “service,” report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
If you gave personal information to a business imposter, head to IdentityTheft.gov for a free, personal recovery plan and advice on how to protect your wallet.