Voice Assistants Alexa, Siri, Google & More Could Put You At Risk With New Scam Calls

Prompts on how to use Amazon's Alexa personal assistant are seen in an Amazon ‘experience centre’ in Vallejo, California,
Prompts on how to use Amazon's Alexa personal assistant are seen in an Amazon ‘experience centre’ in Vallejo, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. (Photo: To match Insight AMAZON.COM-ALEXA/ REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage)

A new security issue has hit the world's leading voice assistants, and this time it is no longer about manufacturers recording our conversations. According to reports, a new scam could put voice assistant users at risk. This scam stems from the convenient auto-dial features of voice assistants to bait users into a trap.

Forbes reports that fraudsters took advantage of the fact that many people look for businesses and call them without even looking at the online entry of the business. This becomes a vulnerability that could potentially open a massive risk that those businesses are not really what they appear to be.

The new scam works by allowing online search engines to promote different business entries. These businesses are prominently featured whenever a search is made. According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are making fake customer service number and bumping them to the topmost part of the search results by simply paying for ads. Whenever Google, Siri, or Alexa, any other voice assistants' conduct a voice search, the algorithm could accidentally choose a scam number.

It seems that these voice assistants are not as keen on spotting fake ads and choosing an alternative as we hope them to be. There were previous reports that claim as many as 11 million false businesses are masquerading on Google maps as legit businesses, fundamentally conducting the same scam. An investigative report from the Wall Street Journal revealed that every month hundreds of thousands of these false business listings were popping up on Google Maps.

Additionally, the Better Business Bureau sends warning that even those that appear to be legitimate or familiar business names could still be drawn into this latest voice assistant scam. According to the bureau, users who need the phone number of a company should ask for the voice assistant or smart home device to find the number and dial it for you. However, when the company's rep or agent answers, it turns out that the rep or agent is not even from the legit company at all but a fraudster.

Unfortunately, there is no clever advice that voice assistant users should do to avoid this kind of scam. It is smart that you personally check the number first and lookup for the business yourself to make sure that the listings are accurate. If you still prefer to use the voice assistant's auto-dial feature, make sure that you are on the lookout for cues.

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