If you want to contact a company’s customer service department, you can do a quick search online and often find what looks like its phone number or email. But is the information at the top of your search results actually correct?
Based on reports the FTC has gotten, sometimes the answer to that question is: no. Some scammers are creating fake customer service information for popular companies and paying for it to show up in your search results. When you contact them, they’ll offer to “resolve” the problem you may have — if you wire money to them or send gift cards. They might also ask for your personal information, or to get remote access to your computer.
Business imposter scams have the same end goal — getting your money or information. Here are some ways to stay safe:
- Check the product packaging. If you still have it, the packaging, manual, or other print material for your product is a good source of real customer service information.
- Visit the company’s official website for contact information. Type the company’s website address directly into your browser. That will get you to the company’s website to look for customer service contact information —maybe a phone number, email address, or a way to submit a message directly through their website. If you use a search engine to find the company, though, double check the URL to be sure you’ve found the company’s official site, not a scammer’s site.
- Never wire money, send gift cards, or give your account password in exchange for customer service help. No legitimate company will ask you to send gift cards or wire money, or give your password in exchange for customer service help. Hang up on anyone who does.
Have 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.
by Jabari Cook, Intern, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC