Business

BBB Tip of the Week: Customer support callers targeted by gift card scam

When you dial customer support, be sure to double-check – or triple-check – the phone number. Scammers are buying phone numbers similar to the customer support numbers of major companies and fooling those who accidentally misdial.

Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific wants to ensure you hold onto your hard-earned money and protect you from identity theft by being informed about how these scams work and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.

How does this scam work?

You need to reach customer support for help with a product or service. You find the number on a recent bill, the back of your credit card or even the company’s website and dial it. An automated message tells you that you’ve been selected to receive a gift card.

Because you dialed the number, you assume the gift card offer must be the real deal. So you stay on the line and speak to a “representative.” This person claims to need your name, address and credit card number to process your new gift card. There is no free gift card. Sharing your personal information with scammers opens you up to fraudulent charges or even identity theft.

As usual, this scam has many different versions, other versions of fat-finger dialing cons use free giveaways or phony surveys instead of a gift card.

How to spot a giveaway or Gift Card Scam

Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information for coupons or giveaways. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there’s a link to their privacy policy.

When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the giveaway is a scam, this is likely to reveal an alert or bring you to the organization’s real website, where they may have posted further information.

Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. Businesses typically give small discounts to entice customers. If the offer seems too good to be true (a $100 voucher or 50 percent discount) it may be a scam.

Noticing the signs and being careful when seeing these scams can prevent you from losing your money, time and identity to scammers. Also, be on the lookout for scams that are similar to these that could use legitimate names from existing businesses. Scammers are clever and try to find new and different ways to trick potential targets.