I used to be scammed by a fake customer support representative. Here's how you possibly can avoid what I went through

I hung up last summer because I assumed the Xfinity customer support representative was really helpful. I needed to make a late payment and handle the present bill. The representative took my information over the phone, I saw the payment posting in my account and thought nothing of it.

Only I didn't actually speak to an Xfinity representative. Just a few weeks later, my Wi-Fi stopped working. I contacted Xfinity again and the representative told me that the corporate had shut off my web connection for non-payment.

It took several hours-long phone calls with various Xfinity representatives over greater than per week, one other unsuccessful payment attempt, and several other frustrating account freezes before I spotted I had been scammed.

A current report The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has listed the highest 10 corporations reported as scammers by U.S. consumers last yr. People like me lost greater than $200 million to someone pretending to be a representative of those corporations.

Topping the list of most counterfeited products was electronics retailer Best Buy and its tech repair service Geek Squad. Also on the list were Amazon, PayPal, Apple and yes, Comcast/Xfinity.

Fraudsters have gotten increasingly more sophisticated, making it increasingly difficult to detect them.

“We use email, text messaging, online services, automatic payments,” said Emma Fletcher, senior data researcher on the FTC. “We get alerts. We use these different technologies everywhere and they hit us where we are. They use them too. And they use them in ways that make them seem very similar, if not identical, to the way the real company might use the technology.”

Scammers often attempt to make it seem to be you have to act quickly to either win money or avoid losing money. A well-liked scam involves a membership that’s about to renew or a charge that you simply didn’t authorize. Often the quantity is so large that it would alarm you and cause you to call back.

When you're in a rush to repair an issue, you possibly can get careless, like I did. I used to be two months pregnant and distracted on the time, so I used to be relieved when someone offered to take my payment over the phone – regardless that that's not how we often pay the bill.

He also told me that if I had any problems I could call them directly, which was one other red flag that I ignored. Customer service representatives rarely give direct numbers.

“They present themselves as someone who can protect your money or solve the problem,” Fletcher said. “They can seem like they're very helpful, but in reality they're leading you down a path to taking your money.”

Sometimes scammers play bad cop and threaten fines or jail time if the items aren't paid for. Other offers sound “too good to be true,” in line with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Nowadays, scam messages should not as obvious as they was, as they contain quite a few spelling and grammatical errors. The email or website could also be only one letter or number unsuitable. If you’re unsure about something, stop communicating and speak to the corporate directly through a verified channel.

I actually have to confess, I never thought I may very well be scammed. I had the preconceived notion that scams only work on individuals who aren't tech-savvy. But younger individuals are more prone to report losing money than older people, Fletcher said.

However, older consumers are likely to report more frequent tech support scams, and their losses are likely to be much higher.

“It's definitely important for everyone to realize they're at risk,” Fletcher said. “'Oh, it doesn't happen to people like me. It happens to these other people who are gullible or whatever or older.' Everyone has a stereotype of who it's going to happen to, and it doesn't apply to them.”

Remember that the implications transcend the loss of cash. I used to be very embarrassed after I was scammed and felt like I couldn't protect my family. While it's easy in charge yourself, keep in mind that you’re a victim.

“There is a non-financial toll on such a transaction,” says Bao Vang, vp of communications for the Better Business Bureau in Minnesota and North Dakota. “It's not just about the money.”

Do not call numbers or click on links that appear online claiming to have problems with considered one of your devices, Best Buy says. Best Buy doesn’t make unsolicited calls to customers.

If you receive an unexpected message or call that makes you suspicious, hang up. Also, don’t give distant access to anyone who guarantees to repair your device. Once they gain access, scammers can install malware that they’ll use to steal personal information.

“As scams become more sophisticated, we have a team of experts and numerous resources dedicated exclusively to fraud prevention and consumer education, including showing consumers how to recognize warning signs and protect themselves,” Best Buy said in a press release.

Best Buy has a fraud prevention team that works with the FTC, federal agencies and other retailers. The retailer has also created a suggestions website at bestbuy.com/stopfraud.

Don't trust the caller ID, even when it looks like Microsoft or one other company is asking. Scammers can spoof official-looking phone numbers, in line with the BBB. Plus, it's easy for scammers to plant fake numbers online.

From what I can remember, I quickly Googled a number to talk to an actual Xfinity representative. I do know it could be tempting to make use of a number posted online by a “helpful” customer to talk directly with a customer support representative, but only trust the lines on an organization's official website or your bill.

If you’re thinking that you may have been scammed, report it on to your bank. Even before I reported it, my bank sent me a message saying my card number was used abroad. I had to alter my card number twice. I used to be capable of get my a reimbursement, but that doesn't at all times occur.

Another place to report fraud is the BBB Scam Trackerthat lets you seek for questionable phone numbers, web sites or scams by company name. In my search, I discovered quite a few stories much like mine.

You must also report fraud cases to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Data from this site is shipped to several law enforcement agencies. In April, a brand new federal rule on government and company identity fraud went into effect, allowing the FTC to file lawsuits in federal court to get better money for defrauded consumers and impose civil penalties on violators.

Remember that real corporations won't let you know to purchase gift cards or pay with Bitcoin. And if that sounds weird, hang up and check out contacting an organization using a verified number.

image credit : www.mercurynews.com