Better Business BureauThe Better Business Bureau is trying to raise awareness for a new kind of online scam, one involving voice-enabled smart devices.

Siri, Alexa, and all other “digital assistants” have become vulnerable to hackers and scammers who target the act of asking the device to find and call phone numbers.

The Scam

According to the Better Business Bureau scammers have to started to create fake business and phone numbers, and then bump them to the top of organic search results.

The business may be fake, but the phone number is real. You ask Siri to find a loan company and call them, and are greeted by a company representative who seems legitimate… but isn’t.

At the moment, these digital assistants are not as clever at discerning real businesses from fake ones. And so you may end up talking to a scammer who collects your information or money.

When a fake company or number is reported, Google and the Better Business Bureau will quickly move to expose it and shut it down.

However, scammers move fast, and every time one of them is shut down, they just change their name and number and start over again.

The Solution

As the old cartoon used to say “now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”

By being aware of how these scammers are trying to trick you, you can be more cautious going forward. The Better Business Bureau advises following these three steps:

  • Use the contact information directly from the company website. Instead of using the first search result, click through and verify the website and the company first.
  • Beware of fake ads. Scammer buy adverts, and use them to boost their rankings. As legit as a paid ad may seem, be careful about clicking through to an unknown business.
  • Use a credit card. Scammers don’t like to deal with credit cards, they prefer pre-paid debit cards, wire transfer and gift cards. You can dispute a fraudulent credit card charge, but once that wire transfer is complete that money will never come back.

Common sense will take you a long way.

Keep yourself sharp, the scammers are always finding new ways to cheat you.

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