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Google, Alexa And Siri Warning: Millions At Risk From Nasty New Scam Calls

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August 19, 2019

Another security issue has hit leading voice assistants—and this time it isn’t manufacturers recording our conversations.

A new scam has been exposed, where fraudsters are hiding behind convenient auto-dial features to lure unsuspecting users into a trap. The fraudsters have realized that people search for businesses and then call them, all without viewing the online entry for the business itself. And that has opened up a major risk that those businesses are not what they might seem.

The scam works by paying online search engines to promote business entries, which then feature prominently when a search is conducted. “Scammers are creating fake customer service numbers,” the Better Business Bureau warns, “and bumping them to the top of search results, often by paying for ads. When Siri, Alexa, or another device does a voice search, the algorithm may accidentally pick a scam number.”

It turns our that the assistants aren’t as good as we are at spotting those fake ads and picking an alternative. And we’re not actually that good, either. In June, I reported that “as many as 11 million false business could be masquerading in plain site on Google Maps,” essentially conducting exactly the same scam.

“These scammers use a wide range of deceptive techniques to try to game our system,” Ethan Russell, product director for Google Maps acknowledged at the time. “As we shut them down, they change their techniques, and the cycle continues.”

A Wall Street Journal investigation claimed that “hundreds of thousands of false listings were sprouting on Google Maps each month,” with search queries “overrun with millions of false business addresses and fake names… luring the unsuspecting to what appear to be Google-suggested local businesses.”

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This article was posted: Monday, August 19, 2019 at 3:22 am

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