A cash app is a smartphone application that allows you to send money to your friends, family, coworkers, or anyone, really. It's a convenient way to avoid turning over credit cards and bank information and, as long as you and the recipient have access to the app, you can exchange money with little to no delay.
The idea is great, but as with all things digital, there are naughty people who are looking for ways to crack these security measures. This latest story has to do with a cash app called CashApp, and it takes place in Georgia, where a woman's bank account was drained.
How Georgia woman was shorted by fake Cash App support
Here's the story. Chandell Shorter of Columbus, Georgia, was just trying to send money to her son through the money-transfer service Cash App but had her account drained due to a fraudulent customer service number.
Cash App, also known with its former name Square Cash, is a popular smartphone payment service where its users can instantly transfer cash to others through its mobile app.
Shorter told WRBL.com that her son, who is in the Navy, lost his bank card. Short of money and desperate to come home, he asked for his mom for help.
“On Feb 15, I was attempting to send money to my son who is in the US Navy and he’d lost his Synovus bank card.” Chandell said. But since there are no Synovus banks in Virginia, he messaged his mom to send him money through the Cash App instead.
However, Chandell said that her Cash App transaction won't go through, so she decided to contact Cash App's customer service and search for Google for the "Cash App 800 number."
So she dialed one of the Cash App support 1-800 lines that her Google search returned and as expected, a "representative" answered the call.
“I google the Cash app 800 number because you're not going to know the number off the top of your head," she explained. "The 800 number popped up with the official cash app logo."
"Thank you for calling square cash app, how may I help you," the "representative" greeted her. Hmm, sounds legitimate so far.
Chandell then told them what happened but to validate her account, the "representative" asked for her name, telephone number, and to cap it off, her PIN.
After going through the "verification" process (Chandell said she was put on hold for 20 minutes), she noticed something distressing -- she started getting fraud alerts from her bank.
At this point, Chandell was still talking to the "representative" so she told them, "I just got a fraud alert from my bank, Synovus, and it's asking me if I authorized for $974 ... so I texted 'NO' to Synovus, I didn't authorize that."
The "representative" reassured her that that's normal. "They said 'Oh no, you should put "YES" it's fine' and I said "No, it's not fine and I’m about to call 911," she recalled.
Too late. Within those 22 minutes, her bank account was drained and $4,668 was stolen .
As you may have guessed, the Cash App customer number she found via Google was fake and the whole call was a ruse to get into her bank account and ransack her funds.
Watch out for fake customer support numbers
Unfortunately, this is not the first time scammers were able to take advantage of Google search results to fool people into calling fake customer service numbers. In fact, it's happening quite frequently with money transfer apps like Cash App.
Google says their policy is to prohibit the advertising and listing of illegal activities and take immediate action when something slips through, but their detection systems have proven to not be foolproof.
Compromised Google search results
The problem gets even worse if your web browser or smartphone has been hijacked by malware. If you have an infected browser, your search results will be highly unreliable and fake results and ads will dominate your searches.
To protect yourself from compromised search results, always keep your browser up to date, uninstall unknown and unused browser plug-ins and extensions and regularly scan your system with anti-malware programs like MalwareBytes.
So for your safety, don't trust the first 1-800 customer service number that pops out in your Google searches. To get the legitimate customer support service number, use the number that's displayed either on your company's app, website or on the back of your banking card.
Oh by the way, the real Cash App Customer Service line is 1-855-351-2274, just in case.
Never ever give your PIN or password over the phone
Another way to protect yourself against customer service scams like this is to never, ever reveal your security details like your full passwords or PIN code over the phone. A legitimate company and bank will never ask for your online account password over the phone.
And finally, trust your instincts. If something feels off about a customer support call, please hang up immediately.
Have you ever been scammed in a phishing scheme? Tell Kim
If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam like this, and you'd like to share your story and get expert advice from Kim Komando, we'd like to hear from you.
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