Internet comes with its benefits and risks and sometimes the perils of being digitally-connected can prove to be costly. A simple Google search has the power of giving any information you need at your fingertips and scammers are using this convenience to steal from unsuspecting internet users.
Recently, a Bengaluru resident was a victim of an online phishing attack, where her only mistake was to look up a customer service number for Swiggy Go online. The 47-year-old woman called the number and realised it was a scam only after Rs 95,000 was debited from her account. But it was too late then.
It is a common practice among users to quickly run a web search to get the customer care number for a business or any company. We rarely tend to second guess the information provided by Google. But the contact number can easily be manipulated/edited and unsuspecting users trying to solve a problem will fall into the trap of the scammers assuming they called the right place.
We often warn people of not sharing any personal information, especially banking details, with anyone over the phone. It is usually scammers calling random people, but with instances like these prove that people must be vigilant about who they call after getting the contact number from a web search.
The best practice is to obtain any information, as basic as a customer care number, from the official websites of the companies. But the thumb rule of staying clear of any kind of scams is to refrain sharing banking credentials with anybody over the phone or SMS, and to avoid clicking on any links sent over email or SMS unless from a verified source.
It's worth pointing out that false customer care number popping up on Google Search isn't a vulnerability or a flaw on Google's end. Users must practice caution while looking for information online. Fraudsters have fake business listings for services like Zomato, Paytm, Swiggy and government organisations. It is up to the user to exercise caution while sourcing information from such sites. Always look for "HTTPS" prefix in the website address for trusted sites.
The next time you do a Google Search for a customer care number, go for the official website and don't blindly follow the first result that pops up in front of you, especially when money matters are involved.