I prefer to keep my work identity private but let’s just say that I work customer service for a major online retailer.
I’m seeing a very heartbreaking trend in customer support calls the last couple of weeks.
People are seeking help with their online orders/accounts, and wind up contacting a scammer instead of the real company. There are people that are more at-risk for being scammed and I would like to ask everyone to take some time to help those you care about learn how to keep themselves safer online.
Typically these at-risk people are in the 60+ crowd although even the young crowd can be tricked.
The ones that are at highest risk are those that are not very tech-savvy. This usually means that they know how to turn on a device, they know how to get to e-mail, search the internet, sometimes know social media sites, and many typically know how to buy and download an ebook. They might even play games.
However, they do not usually understand terms like “desktop”, “browser”, “cookies/cache” and most importantly “remote access”. These at-risk people do not understand computer lingo at all.
Scammers and those looking to steal identities know how to do their jobs. They are very charismatic, smooth talking, they know how to get someone to trust them and even more scary is they can manipulate people into doubting those inner warnings. People will question if what is going on is okay. Then the scammer artfully makes them doubt those warnings.
Talk to your family/friends, please!
- Offer to be there to answer questions before they contact “help”.
- Do not “Google” for customer service phone numbers. Scammers have very realistic looking fake help pages. If you need to contact customer support, go to that company’s website. Most companies will at least have a contact us form.
- Never, ever give out passwords for anything! Real company customer service will not ask for a password.
- Never, ever, offer your credit/debit card information.
- Never allow remote access to your computer (for retail companies). The scammers are good. They will talk people into giving them remote access. Teach your family/friends what remote access is and what can happen if they give someone remote access.
- Do not share your social security number. Customer service will never need this information.
- Do not click on links offering things like “Earn a $1000.00 gift card by filling out this survey.” This is a phishing scam. Every time! Companies that offer contests will have that contest information on their website.
- Do not click links in e-mails when there are “account problems”, “issues with orders” or “confirmation of an order” (that you didn’t place). There are ways for the more tech-savvy to check those e-mails and determine that they are real, but this is harder for the higher at-risk people. Teach your family/friends, if they get an e-mail from an online retailer like this, don’t click the link! Instead, open their browser and go directly to that website and log-in to check their account. Yes, it may be a real e-mail from the company, but often these realistic looking e-mails are phishing attempts.
- Last but not least, don’t “say what you’re doing.” I’ve even caught myself doing this. This happens when you’re talking to customer service and doing what they ask and you are typing something out like your e-mail address or password and as you type you say what you’re typing out loud.
-Remember the online retailer rules!!!
- Companies will not threaten to close your account if you don’t provide credit card information and other personal information.
- Companies will not ask for your password(s)
- Companies will not ask for identity information like social security numbers
- Companies will offer contact information on their website. It might be hard to find but it is there.
- If there is a problem with your account or an order you place, that information will be available on the company website under Your Account or Your Orders or similar pages.
- Companies will never ask for remote access.
So many well-meaning children, nieces/nephews, grandchildren are giving our seniors tech devices and teaching them the basics of how to use the device but overlook teaching them how to keep themselves safe.
Every time I get a phone call from a senior that has been duped, it makes my stomach sick and I feel so devastated for them. They are so trusting. Sometimes, they are so trusting, that I have trouble getting them to believe that they were scammed. I also cannot give them advice other than to change their passwords (which most of them don’t even know how to do this).
Things I cannot advise:
If they’ve given remote access, they need to shut the device down and contact a family member because I promise spyware, keyloggers, viruses and malware HAVE BEEN INSTALLED!
If they gave credit/debit card numbers, they need to contact the banking institution and tell them that they were scammed, that they gave out their personal information and probably need to have their card canceled and issued a new card.
If they were scammed, they should invest in credit monitoring for at least a year.
Help me, your friendly customer service representative, by helping your loved ones before they are scammed.
Our seniors can be taught! Trust me. I’ve spent over an hour on so many calls with seniors teaching them how to do things. They don’t understand … yet! They might be older but they are very much still smart as all heck!
Most of all, they trust us! Family. Friends. They trust us with this tech stuff to know what we’re doing when they don’t.
Thank you for reading!