How many times have you googled a company’s name to get information? We have a warning about what might pop up in those search results. I’ve done a lot of stories about every type of scam you can think of and still I almost fell for this potential fraud.
Here’s what happened: I needed to change flights for an upcoming trip so I googled the airlines name and “customer service” on my phone. I clicked on one of the first numbers that popped up. And after a few minutes of talking to the customer service rep, I realized - this was not the airline. It was a scammer asking for my flight information. I quickly hung up and discovered the Better Business Bureau warns about this.
“If you do just a general online search for that company you could stumble across an ad that was created by a scammer for that company,” said Leah Napoliello Vice President, Operations at The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas Houston. “They put out a phone number and you call that phone number and it’s not the actual company itself, instead it’s a scammer that maybe requesting personal information your account information.”
Along with fake numbers, there are websites that may look nearly identical to the real ones that show up when you enter common search terms. The main goal is for thieves to get your personal information or credit card number.
A few signs you are on a fake website
The website link is not exactly right. The BBB says to check the actual URL of the web page not just what is on the website. While scammers are pretty good at copying websites, they often make common spelling mistakes that can be a red flag for you.
Not enough contact information. These websites may have a “contact” section but there may be odd emails listed.
If you really want to do some digging on websites, there are ways you can check the domain and ownership. We covered this in a story about fake shopping websites.