If there’s one basic rule of safety you should be aware of, it’s that large companies generally won’t call out of the blue about your computer, fraud on your account, or any other support related issue. Unfortunately, it’s a scam that continues on unabated, and now it seems the scammers have moved on from pretending to be Microsoft to claiming to be Apple and Amazon.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about the scam calls on its website, and it even included two sample calls. In each case, rather than hear from an actual human, you get a text-to-speech robot voice. That’s another increasingly common tactic and is likely a way to avoid arousing suspicions from an accent or less-than-adequate grasp of English.
The scammers are also using the common tactic of employing fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). They’ll claim that someone tried to do something terrible, like purchase an iPhone using your account and credit card, and they’re here to help.
No one made a purchase, not yet anyway. But the call includes a way to contact the scammers, either through a call-back number or a dialing system (press one to stop fraud!). And that’s the trick: rather than contact Amazon or Apple, you’ll end up talking with the scammers.
Naturally, the next step is to “confirm your identity” by providing details like your name, address, and credit card info. And in the process, you hand over everything the scammer needs to go on a spending spree.
As the FTC states, the best thing you can do is hang up on these kinds of calls. Do not call any provided number and don’t press one for help. Instead, if you’re worried about your account, head to Amazon or Apple’s site (or Microsoft or whoever contacted you) and directly contact the company.
Don’t follow a web link provided in an email or phone call either, as that could be a redirect to a scam site. Use Google to find the website you need (or go straight to Apple.com or Amazon.com), then locate the “contact us” page.
Scams like these aren’t going away, so it’s best to be aware and tell your friends. Companies won’t contact you to solve your virus problems, offer you a job over hangouts, validate your account over phone call or text, or even try to prevent a fraudulent sale. If the company had reason to suspect a fraud purchase, it wouldn’t have let the sale go through in the first place.
When in doubt, assume it’s a scam. And if you think someone has compromised your credit card call your bank.