New Delhi,Updated: Mar 30, 2023 16:49 IST
By Divya Bhati: Internet search engines such as Google have become an integral part of our daily lives. Whether we’re checking the news or digging deep into a particular topic, we rely on Google to find the answers we need. One of the most commonly used queries for search engines is finding customer care contacts. But what if customer care number inquiries opened the door to online fraud and people lost hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Example: Recently, a retired army officer in Mayur Vihar district, Delhi lost Rs 34,000 after calling a customer care number. His retired army major Vinod Kumar was expecting a new debit card from a third-party courier company, according to a Times of India report. He called the customer care number to inquire about the order but got no response. The fake representative asked him to share his OTP following some verification procedures. This caused Vinod Kumar to lose money.
In another case, the victim, Atul Shete, who was appointed as a special duty officer by Chhattisgarh Minister of Culture Amarjeet Bhagat, was defrauded of about Rs. filed a cyber fraud complaint. his parcel. As in the previous case, he was instructed to complete the process of scheduling a delivery, and an alleged customer care executive shared a link from which Shete was asked to pay. According to TOI, Shete paid the fees through his UPI ID linked to his State Bank of India. However, after paying the fee, he received a flurry of fraudulent transaction messages and about Rs 99,995 were deducted from his bank account in his four installments.
Another report revealed that a Mumbai woman lost 81,000 rupees while charging her set-top box online. According to a report in The Free Press Journal, she faced several problems while paying for her DTH services and found a helpline number online for her help. rice field. Her call went unanswered, but the next day she received another call from a stranger who introduced himself as a customer care executive and offered to help. As soon as she shared his OTP, she fell into the trap and lost around 81,000 rupees.
These are recent reported cases of being duped by fake customer care representatives. However, such cases are nothing new and the scam has been around for several years. But the question is, how is this scam webbed? Most of these cases call the Customer His Care phone number listed on his website that appears in Google search results.
Scammers Posting Fake Helpline Numbers on Google Search
People often look up phone numbers online when they need help from the customer care departments of banks, travel agents, online shopping sites, and other businesses. Businesses usually post their contact information on their website and can easily be found by search engines. Even government agencies such as SBI and UIDAI provide contact information for customer support.
However, scammers take advantage of search engine algorithms to trick people. Create a fake website that looks just like the real thing and post a fake phone number. When people search for a certain number, these fake girlfriend websites will appear in the search results along with the real girlfriend websites. If you call the listed numbers, you will fall into a trap.
Google tries to distinguish between real and fake websites, but scammers find ways to circumvent these tactics. For example, several years ago The Wall Street Journal reported on a fake website that used Google Ads to promote a fake website and appeared at the top of the search results for “Apple Tech Support.”
Google eventually fixed the issue, but until someone reports it, the fake website can still harm many people.
In one of its recommendations, even SBI asked users to visit its official website for help to avoid falling for fake customer care support. “Beware of fake customer care numbers. Please refer to SBI official website for correct customer care number. Please do not share confidential banking information with anyone,” read a tweet from SBI. increase.
How to prevent such scams
While companies, banks, and even search engines like Google try to filter and block fake websites, or inform people about fake websites, individuals are tempted by such scams. We must remain vigilant and aware.
To avoid being a victim of such fraudulent activities, please be aware of the following:
- Confirm the number and website. Do not blindly call or trust any website you find on Google. Always double check your information before contacting numbers or emails you find online.
- Do Not Share Confidential Information: A real company or bank will never ask for sensitive information like OTP or ask users to download useful apps. If you are asked for such information over the phone, please block the caller and report it to the authorities.
- Beware of phishing links: Be careful of phishing links you receive. The scammer may tell you to pay using the link you sent or enter your details on her website which you visit via the shared link.