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Siri, am I getting conned? BBB warns of new voice search scam

Updated: Aug. 19, 2019 at 5:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about a new scam with a good chance of tricking people who are advanced smart phone users.

The agency says it’s targeting people who use the voice search feature on their smart device to quickly find and dial a company’s phone number.

The BBB says in some cases, victims are being connected to a con artist.

Tech expert Ryan Ozawa explains how the scam works:

“If someone wanted to intercept calls you might make to your utility, they would buy an ad that would say searches for this electric company come to my phone number instead.

"Now, if you pay enough for that ad you’re the no. 1 search result. Alexa or any smart device will default to giving you the first result when it goes looking for that utility.”

BBB officials say the scam just appeared on its radar within the past week.

The agency says one victim was almost hustled after using voice search to dial up customer service for a major airline.

The person on the other end of the line tried convince her to pay for a seat change using prepaid gift cards by insisting the airline was running a promotion.

So far, the agency hasn’t received any reports about victims in Hawaii but it’s urging people to be aware.

To avoid getting ripped off, the BBB says you should always verify a phone number on a businesses official website, on your bill or in a confirmation email.

If you’re paying for something over the phone, Ozawa said use “a standard credit card that has consumer protections. If you are a victim of a scam, you have some recourse to recover that money.”

If you’ve been a target of this scam the Better Business Bureau wants to know. You can report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

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