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AG Nessel Amplifies BBB Warning About Using Smartphones, Devices to Look Up and Call Numbers

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wants to inform residents of the Better Business Bureau’s recent warning about how using smartphone voice search and virtual assistant technology apps to look up and dial phone numbers can put consumers in danger of being scammed. 

Smartphone users are increasingly exposed to scams that exploit their reliance on smart devices to find and call phone numbers. Consumers often use apps like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant to find and dial a number when they're on the go or as a modern-day convenience. 

Scammers are aware of this reliance and have devised ways to trick smartphone users into paying fees for services they didn’t expect to be charged for. They do this by creating fake customer service numbers that will appear in search results when you use voice search. The assist app algorithm will choose the fake number because it appears at the top of the search results. 

However, this is sometimes not the number you are searching for. The “representative” who answers the call may direct you to a website designed to steal your personal information or may try to charge a fee for assisting you, saying you can only pay by wire transfer or prepaid debit card. This should always be a red flag. 

“Smartphones and devices can provide time-saving convenience and assistance, but beware voice search apps are vulnerable to misdirection by scammers after your money,” Nessel said. “The Better Business Bureau has tips to help protect you from phone support scams and my office’s Consumer Protection Team stands ready to provide additional help to Michigan consumers.”

The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to: 

  • Verify support phone numbers. Use the contact details on the business's website. Confirm the URL on your bill, receipt, or in your confirmation email instead of searching online or using your smartphone to find a number. 
  • Watch out for phony ads made by scammers. These ads may use fictitious customer support numbers and it could be more difficult to distinguish a fake listing from an actual one when using voice search to look up a number. Consult the official corporate website or correspondence for information. 
  • Go straight to the source. If you need to contact a company or business for tech support, customer service, or your account details, use their mobile app or go to their website. Reputable businesses will never request payment information from you over the phone for goods or services. Keep this in mind. 
  • Use your credit card for payments. Disputing a credit card payment is simpler. Using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer for payment is similar to using cash and it’s virtually impossible to get your money back. 

If you have been a victim of a smartphone voice search scam, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. You can also contact the Attorney General or get additional information at: 

Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll-free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form


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