You need to call customer service, but don’t have the number, so you do a quick search online. But beware, doing so could cost you thousands of dollars.
It happened to Dr. Melanye Maclin, a Bowie, Maryland, dermatologist who was trying to contact Facebook. She says she searched the app for a customer service number and found one and called it.
Maclin says the man who answered claimed he was with Facebook customer support. Maclin explained she had fraudulent charges on her credit card from Facebook Ads. He said in order to investigate her dispute, Maclin needed to download an app that would give him remote access to her phone.
Once she downloaded the app, the so-called customer service representative had complete control of her phone.
“I was still feeling fairly comfortable because, once again, I got the number from Facebook,” said Maclin.
However, moments later she watched in disbelief as he clicked on several apps on her phone, including Instagram, Facebook and even CashApp, which is connected to her checking account. Before Maclin could do anything the scammer sent several payments to different accounts in CashApp totalling $6,332.
The only way Maclin could stop the man from stealing any more money was to uninstall the app that gave him access to her phone.
Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau have issued warnings recently about these types of scams. They say thieves create fake customer service information for popular companies hoping it will show up when you do an internet search. When you call they will ask you for personal information or get remote access to your phone or computer.
As for Maclin, she said she found Facebook’s customer service number on the social media’s app. However, Facebook says it does not have a customer service number and directs you to report issues online only. News4 was able to find the exact number Maclin found in Facebook’s Help Community chat board, where someone, probably a scammer, posted it.
If you lose money to a scam your bank is not obligated to put that money back in your account. That’s because a scam is different from fraud.
“If your bank has been hacked, we’re required by law to make you whole,” Paul Benda, Senior Vice President of Risk and Cybersecurity Policy for the American Bankers Association said. “But unfortunately if someone on their own chooses to send money … the bank is not going to question you if you’ve chosen to send money to someone else, that is your responsibility.”
Maclin is not giving up so easily. She believes her bank should have caught the multiple transactions and frozen her account before it was drained.
Here’s how you can make sure you are calling a legitimate customer service number:
- Type the company’s website right into your browser
- If you do an internet search to find the company’s website, double-check the URL once you click on the link to make sure you didn’t click on a scammer’s site
- Make sure the number on the website has been posted by the company and isn’t in a public comment section
- Never give anyone remote access to your phone or computer