Customer Appreciation Call: Phone Scam Overview
Almost every company that you do business with, whether it be retailers, movie theaters, hotels, etc., has a customer loyalty program in place designed to reward you for being a good customer. In addition, companies try to provide the highest level of customer service in order to ensure that customers continue to return and refer friends and family to them.
While superlative customer service ensures that you have an excellent experience, criminals can use the ruse of customer service in order to trick and convince customers to divulge sensitive personal information. This is especially true when there are data breaches involved and already sensitive information has been leaked, for example earlier in 2016 when it was found that hackers had stolen credit card information of Marriot, Sheraton, Hyatt and Westin hotel customers in several different states.
Scammers will many times already have personal information and partial payment information, and they can spin a story backed by caller ID spoofing to trick you into giving up the information they need.
The Scenarios Used
There are several different scenarios used in the customer appreciation phone scam. However, it typically begins with an automated call that states you are a valued customer of a certain company and that you are being presented with a gift for your loyalty. After following the prompts, you will be directed to a representative. Once you are on the line with the representative they will ask you for personal and financial information.
Another scenario involves you talking directly to a supposed, live representative of the company in question. The phony representative will go into great detail about the gift you are going to receive before they ask you to verify your account. In order to verify the account, you will have to give them your credit card number and billing information. The credit card number will be requested because you will have to pay a small tax on the gift you are receiving.
Avoiding This Scam
The customer appreciation phone scam is similar to the free vacation scam as well as other too-good-to-be-true offers. It's important to keep in mind that free giveaways when promised via a phone call are never free. They are designed to steal your information and waste your time.
If you receive an automated call or a call from a live representative saying that you've won something due to your customer loyalty, hang up. Do not give any personal information over the phone to unsolicited callers. You should check directly with the company the caller claimed to be from. Chances are that you aren't the only one being targeted by this scam and that other customers are also being affected.
How to Report the Customer Appreciation Phone Scam
If you receive a call from someone that you suspect may be a scammer, first contact the company they claimed to be calling from directly and then report it to the FTC. As mentioned before, it's likely that you're not the only person being called by a scammer and by reporting it you can help save others from falling victim.
In addition to reporting the scam call to the FTC, you can also help warn others by leaving your feedback on the scammer's number in CallerSmart's online phone book. You can trace phone numbers in our free iPhone caller ID app to check for suspicious behavior and leave your feedback.