NOIDA: When most of us want to find the customer service contact information for a bank, consumer brand, online shopping site in order to file a complaint, we turn to Google. Fraudsters are taking notice and exploiting this to steal money from unsuspecting customers.
Scammers are tampering with the customer service numbers of reputable companies and financial institutions on platforms such as Twitter, Google, and Facebook to misdirect consumers into calling them in a sophisticated phishing scam that is gaining traction on the internet.
Manipulating Google Search Result
This is accomplished in a variety of ways. The most popular approach is for conmen to change a company’s customer service coordinates on Google and then use SEO to push their bogus number to the top of the search results. They create look-a-like website of the brand and publicise fake customer care number. They pay to display the fake customer care number on the top of Google search result.
When a customer searches for a service provider’s customer support phone number on Google, they fall into the trap of dialling the first number that appears in the search results.
Fraudsters not only alter the original contact coordinates of popular retail stores and banks on Google Maps with their own. Google Maps gives all users editing capabilities, making it the easiest platform for fraudsters to tamper with.
The other two channels where fraudsters tamper with customer care coordinates are Twitter and Facebook. They meticulously monitor consumer complaints on Twitter and respond quickly to those tweets in order to supply their phoney phone numbers before the corporation can take notice.
Another way involves fraudsters creating industry blogs, such as those on e-commerce shopping, on platforms like Medium and posting bogus numbers pretending as customer service coordinates for companies in that area (e-commerce merchants in this case). They also participate in community organisations and read company blogs to keep track of customers who complain in the comments area and are quick to provide their phone numbers as comments.
Phishing attacks often entail a scammer posing as a customer service executive calling the customer to obtain sensitive banking information. Because the consumers are tricked into calling the frauds rather than the other way around in this scam, it makes it much easier for the fraudsters to accomplish the crime.
“We are getting many cases of fake customer care numbers and Google search fraud. Cyber criminals have created fake customer support numbers of banks, financial institutions, online shopping websites and big brands. Whenever common people search for their number they land up of a fake customer care number,” said Triveni Singh, SP Cyber Crime UP Police.
Singh appealed to the people that if anyone finds such fake links, websites or messages they should immediately inform cyber crime of Uttar Pradesh and strict action will be taken against those who have created it. He advised the public not to look up for customer support number of Google but to get it from the official website of the brand they are looking for.
How to avoid online fraud: The simplest method to avoid this fraud is to call the customer service number published exclusively on the service provider’s website. You can also seek for a consumer complaint redressal section on the merchant’s mobile application.
Because the Twitter handles of most large corporations and banks are verified, it is important to pay attention to the Twitter handle that reacts to the post. Another red indicator is if the company’s customer service representative contacts you a direct message (DM) on Twitter. Typically, merchants will answer as a remark on the Twitter tweet and will not send a DM until you initiate a private chat over DMs on the company’s official handle.
Most importantly, never provide banking information such as a card number, CVV, ATM PIN, banking passwords, or one-time passwords (OTP) with anyone over the phone or by e-mail.
In general, no bank or reputable organisation asks its customers for personal information over the phone or by email.
If you have been defrauded, you should report it to the following authorities: Write to your bank right away. Most banks have their toll-free helpline numbers displayed on their websites.
Payment providers, e-commerce merchants, and food delivery services all provide their customers with the ability to report a fraud on their website and mobile app.
To assist victims of cyber fraud, the government launched a nationwide hotline number 155260 and a reporting platform in June.
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