In the heat of the summer, some household appliances work overtime. If you find yourself in need of repairs, your first instinct may be to do a quick search for the brand’s customer service line and call. However, scammers are posing as customer service representatives to steal your money and information.
When doing those “quick searches,” we tend to pick one of the top results assuming they are more reliable. However, scammers sometimes are able to achieve results closer to the top, luring you in. Once you call, they listen to your problem, promise you a repairman and even say they can send help faster if you give some information and pay an upfront fee. After the fee is paid and your appointment time arrives, nobody shows up. If you call back, the representative may claim to have no record of your call — or you might get no answer at all.
One Texas victim lost almost $40 to a scam like this one when searching for help with a broken fridge. A fake repair person showed up (after the consumer called the real appliance manufacturer, which confirmed they never sent anyone) and began to demand a “trip fee” when asked to leave. The scammer was so aggressive that the victim ended up paying the money just to get rid of them.
Scams like this can range from inconvenient to scary, but these tips from your BBB can help you avoid falling victim to them:
• Check the service number. Because scammers can make fake ads for customer service numbers, don’t be quick to trust the first results that show up in your search engine. Get your information from the official company website or the paperwork that came with your appliance.
• Figure out warranties when you buy. When purchasing a household appliance, ask what is included in the warranty, how long it lasts, what fees you’ll be responsible for and who makes repairs. The more you know, the harder it is for scammers to fool you.
• Pay with your credit card. You can dispute charges on your credit card, making it easier for you to get your money back if you get scammed. It is almost impossible to get money back after making payments via debit card or wire transfer.
To learn more, visit bbb.org.
Emily Gaines is the public relations coordinator for the Bryan-College Station office of Better Business Bureau.