LANSING, Mich. — Smartphone users beware: some voice search and assistant technology could expose you to scammers.
Using apps such as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, scammers have found a way to trick users into paying fees for services they didn’t expect to be charged for, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel.
To do this, scammers create fake customer service numbers that appear in search results when you use voice search.
Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant will then select the fake number because their algorithms choose it from the top of the search results, officials said.
A “representative” who answers the call may direct users to a website aimed at stealing personal information, or would try to get someone to pay for help.
“Smartphones and devices can provide time-saving convenience and assistance, but beware voice search apps are vulnerable to misdirection by scammers after your money,” Nessel said. “The Better Business Bureau has tips to help protect you from phone support scams and my office’s Consumer Protection Team stands ready to provide additional help to Michigan consumers.”
To protect yourself and others from this scam, the Better Business Bureau recommends the following:
- Verify support phone numbers. Use the contact details on the business’s website. Confirm the URL on your bill, receipt, or in your confirmation email instead of searching online or using your smartphone to find a number.
- Watch out for phony ads made by scammers. These ads may use fictitious customer support numbers and it could be more difficult to distinguish a fake listing from an actual one when using voice search to look up a number. Consult the official corporate website or correspondence for information.
- Go straight to the source. If you need to contact a company or business for tech support, customer service, or your account details, use their mobile app or go to their website. Reputable businesses will never request payment information from you over the phone for goods or services. Keep this in mind.
- Use your credit card for payments. Disputing a credit card payment is simpler. Using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer for payment is similar to using cash and it’s virtually impossible to get your money back.
Individuals who have been a victim of a smartphone voice scam can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau online, or contact the Attorney General’s office at 517-335-7599.