For years I have warned you about phony tech support scams  done by scammers who establish bogus tech support websites for your favorite tech companies, such as Facebook and Instagram.  By manipulating the algorithms used by Google and other search engines, the scammers manage to get their bogus websites into top positions in Google and other search engine searches.  These phony tech support websites are used to scam you out of money or personal information used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Now scammers are using similar tactics scamming people looking for help with the repair of common household appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines.  People looking  through a search engine for a telephone number for customer service or a company’s warranty center are taken to one of the phony websites and when they call the telephone number found in the phony website they are told that they can set up an appointment for a repair person by merely providing their name and location.  Then they are often told that they need to pay a small fee which they can do by credit card or debit card for a speedy next-day expedited service call.  Unfortunately, this is all a scam.  No service person comes the next day, however, your credit card, or even worse, your debit card is used by the scammer.

TIPS

The best place to look for a telephone number for customer support or warranty information is on the company’s official website or the warranty documents that came with your appliance.

Consumers should refrain from using their debit cards for anything other than an ATM card. Use a credit card for all of your card purchases to achieve greater consumer protection.  In addition, you should regularly monitor the bank account tied to your debit card in order to discover as soon as possible if fraudulent use of your debit card has occurred so that you can report it to the bank and limit your liability. When you pay with a credit card whether online or in a brick and mortar store, your liability limit for fraudulent purchases made with your card is fifty dollars and most card issuers don’t hold you responsible for any fraudulent charges when you promptly report the fraud.  On the other hand, when you use your debit card, you are making a direct withdrawal from the bank account tied to your card.  If your debit card security is breached your liability is five hundred dollars if you do not report the fraudulent use within two business days after learning of the breach and if you are not regularly monitoring your bank statements and do not report the fraudulent use for more than sixty days after your bank statement with the fraudulent charges is sent to you, your liability is unlimited.  Potentially, you could lose your entire bank account if you are not careful.  Even if you report fraudulent use of your debit card immediately, your bank account will be frozen and you will lose access to your own bank account while the bank investigates the matter which can be a tremendous inconvenience.

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