Scammers Target Voice Search Users: How to Protect Yourself

Voice search is becoming an increasingly common way to obtain the information you need online. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri provide an easy tool for finding websites, phone numbers, addresses, and more. However, if you’ve been using voice commands to dial numbers that are not in your contact list, you should be aware of the latest voice search scam.

How Does This Scam Work?

The advent of new technology, such as voice search, makes our lives easier. However, it also provides new ways for cybercriminals to game the system and obtain people’s sensitive information. Scammers are always on the lookout for ways to target unsuspecting users. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many phishing scams have begun to emerge that involve virtual assistants and voice search tools. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently released a statement alerting users of these new cyber threats.

“Scammers are creating fake customer service numbers,” the Better Business Bureau warns, “and bumping them to the top of search results, often by paying for ads. When Siri, Alexa, or another device does a voice search, the algorithm may accidentally pick a scam number.”

Because voice search is becoming increasingly popular, this scam will likely affect a large number of users. Even those who are very careful with their information may be tricked into falling for this type of phishing scheme.

Siri, Alexa, and other virtual assistants can’t detect that the number is fraudulent. Because of this, if you use a voice command to call a particular company’s customer service line, you may actually be connected with a scam artist. Unfortunately, few people are suspicious of these fake representatives, because they assume their virtual assistant has dialed the correct number. They don’t realize that it could be a scam, so they follow all directions given by the customer service agent.

Scammers may ask for wire transfers or remote access to computers. They also use some familiar scams, such as asking you to pay them in prepaid credit cards. These requests should be cause for concern and must be reported to the BBB’s Scam Tracker.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself Against Phone Scams?

Currently, AI algorithms don’t allow virtual assistants to detect these types of scams. Luckily, as more companies become aware of them, it is likely that fraudulent numbers will be shut down quickly.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to avoid using voice search results to dial numbers. Instead, you should take the time to look up the correct customer service line on the business’s website. This practice may seem inconvenient, but it’s far less cumbersome than attempting to recover from damage caused by a scam. To simplify the process, consider saving the customer service number to your contacts if you think you’ll need to call the line again. Then, you can tell your virtual assistant to call that contact, and you will be connected to the correct number.

If you use voice search to connect you to a company’s customer service line, you should pay close attention to what the agent says. If they make a strange request, such as asking for personal information they shouldn’t need (e.g., your Social Security number), promptly end the call. You should then report the phone number to the BBB.

When shopping via voice search, be sure to use your regular credit card. That way, if you encounter a scam, your charges will be protected by your credit card company, and the card can be canceled at any time. If you use a pre-paid card, you won’t have access to the same protection – and likely won’t be able to get your money back.

What Should You Do If You Think You’ve Been Scammed?

If you’ve been scammed, the first thing you’ll want to do is protect your information. If you’ve given sensitive data to someone who may be a scammer, make sure that you cancel or put a hold on all of your bank accounts and credit cards. You should also alert someone at your financial institution so they can keep an eye on your account for any suspicious activity.

Some voice search scammers will request access to your computer. If you’ve allowed this and think your device may be compromised, it’s best to have it examined by a trusted IT expert.

Looking for High-Quality IT Services

As voice search security issues continue to emerge, it’s crucial to take extra precautions. Most importantly, beware of asking your smart device to look up a phone number. And if you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam that uses Siri or Alexa, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.

NerdsToGo is here to help you stay safe online and protect yourself against all of the latest scams. We offer a variety of computer solutions, including computer repair, network solutions, data backup, and more. For more information about our services, or to speak to a Nerd, contact us today!