Your phone vibrates. “Hello?”
“Hello, this is Google business services. You’re receiving this call because our system has flagged a series of payment errors on your account. In order to help us correct this situation, please press 1 to speak with a Google service specialist.”
As we’re reading this, we might see the bologna from a mile away. But if this is a voice call, and our minds are distracted enough, and the situation sounds urgent enough, and “Google business services” sounds convincing enough, we might press 1 before we even realize something’s not right.
Unfortunately for us, that call wasn’t Google. It was a robocall—an illegal operation that uses automation to call massive numbers of people, gain their trust and interaction (e.g. “press 1,” “confirm your password,” “call this number,” and worse), and take advantage of the interaction for an illicit purpose that usually causes a headache for those who fall victim.
In this age of automation, robocalls and other illicit calls (not to mention emails and text messages) have increased to an epic scale around the world. And they’re not just really numerous—they’re also really, really convincing. According to an article posted by Webroot, a worldwide cybersecurity company, criminals use tactics like social engineering to gain people’s trust, because “it is usually easier to exploit your natural inclination to trust than it is to discover ways to hack your software.”
The article from Webroot has some great tips to help us avoid fraudulent phone calls. Also, check out what Google has to say about this. Like most of the big companies that scammers claim in these calls, Google will very rarely contact you over the phone and especially not using voice automation (unless you request it). Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—not even a robocall!