If you use Google’s search engine to find Facebook customer service, there’s a good chance you might end up on the phone with a scam artist, according to a new report from NPR.
When the news organization searched “Facebook customer service,” the very top search result was a sketchy-seeming phone number. Google even highlighted the number as its top, most credible search result. NPR then gave the number to a company called Pindrop that specializes in phone fraud.
PIndrop called the number and reached someone named “Steven” who claimed to work for Facebook, though the fraud detection company traced him to India. Pindrop played along with the scam and pretended to be locked out of their Facebook account. “Steven” then advised the company to go to a store and buy an iTunes gift card, then provide the 16-digit “security code” on the back to the sketchy call center.
Of course, this is a fairly blatant attempt to steal from users who these scam artists get on the phone. For its part, Facebook says it is aware of the scam, though it is up to Google to remove the search result. What’s worse, the term “Facebook customer service” is searched for 27,000 times a month, meaning tons of people could be falling victim to this scam without either tech giant doing anything about it.
“One would think that a company as large as Facebook would be monitoring [the] search engine results page for a major query surrounding their services,” Marty Weintraub, founder of Aimclear Marketing, told NPR. “I’d be so scared… These are people who are looking for help with the product and they’re getting scammed. OMG.”
Let’s hope this report calls attention to the problem and it gets solved before anyone else can fall victim to it. It’s also worth noting that Facebook does not have a customer service phone number at all, so it always pays to do research before reaching out.