When something goes wrong with one of your household appliances, your first reaction might be to call customer service or your warranty provider. But BBB Scam Tracker is seeing increasing reports of scammers fooling consumers with fake customer service phone numbers.
Here’s how the scam works. Your washing machine, refrigerator, or other household appliance breaks, so you do a quick online search for the customer service or warranty center’s phone number. You dial one of the top results, and a “representative” answers your call. They listen to your problem and assure you that the company will take care of the repairs. All you have to do is give your name, home address, and credit or debit card information. You’ll be charged a small service fee so they can set up an appointment with the repair person. Often, the representative will promise you “next-day service” and fast repair times, as long as you pay the fee up front.
When your appointment time arrives, no one shows up. The charge is on your bank or credit card statement, but when you call the support number again, the representative claims to have no record of your previous call. In other cases, they simply don’t answer.
However, according to one BBB Scam Tracker report, some scammers are even posing as fake repair professionals! When a phony repairperson showed up at one consumer’s house, the homeowner called the real appliance manufacturer, who confirmed that they had not sent anyone to the residence. When asked to leave, the imposter “demanded I pay a trip fee of 39 dollars.” Feeling threatened and wanting to be rid of the fake repairperson, the consumer paid up.
How to Avoid Appliance Repair Scams
Double check the customer service number. Scammers make fake ads with fake customer service numbers. Instead of trusting the first search result that pops up in your search engine, get your information from the official company website or warranty paperwork that came with your appliance.
Find out how warranties and repairs work when you buy. When you purchase a household appliance, find out what is included in the warranty, how long the warranty lasts, what fees you will still be responsible for, and who makes the repairs. Armed with this knowledge, it will be harder for scammers to trick you.
Make payments with your credit card. Any payment you make with your credit card can be disputed. Paying by wire transfer or pre-paid debit card is like using cash. There is almost nothing you can do to get the money back.
If you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam like this one, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others protect themselves from similar schemes.
For more BBB consumer tips, visit BBB.org.
Kelvin Collins is president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 77 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB). The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, website: www.bbb.org or email: email@example.com