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Viewpoint: Identifying a fake contact centre

Unsuspecting victims are warned to look out for fake contact centre calls.

Unsuspecting victims are warned to look out for fake contact centre calls.

The world is being inundated with fake news and cyber crime. Sadly, fraud artists, who falsely pose as contact centre agents, are a reality too. However, the contact centre community can help spread the word before unsuspecting victims' bank accounts are wiped out. 

Rebecca Anderson, senior public relations specialist at Ocular's software partner, Aspect, has put together the following hints for spotting fake contact centre scams:

  • Fake contact centre agents will typically seek payment before letting you off the phone. If you are being pressured to make a payment on the spot, it is most likely a scam.
  • Many of these agents will also try to get you to make payments using gift cards from Apple or iTunes so that the money is harder to trace.
  • In order to keep their con going, fake contact centre agents are coached to tell their victims that their situation is confidential and cannot be discussed with a third party. A legitimate agent, on the other hand, would have no reason to hide.
  • Some agents have used fear to extract funds from their victims. Others dangled financial rewards instead. If someone calls you out of the blue with an incredible money-making opportunity, it's probably too good to be true. Don't make any commitments on the spot and give yourself time to do your own research and sit down with an accredited financial advisor instead.
  • If you have been called from a spoofed number, you need to troubleshoot it to figure it out. Tell the caller you will try call them back in a few minutes. In the meantime, use another phone to call another number that gets you to the organisation. For instance, if the caller uses a SARS number, find an alternate way to contact SARS to verify they do, indeed, have a history of working on your case.

Showing just how large these scams can be is Reuters, which reported in December last year that 15 000 people lost more than $300 million in an "enormous and complex fraud" that had been running since 2013. Charges were brought against 56 people in India and the US for "telefraud" scams run from fake call centres in India.

The astounding innovation in sophisticated technologies that enhance the customer experience in contact centres is what should be making headline news. Knowledge is wisdom though and it is advantageous to know that there are – just like in all industries – scammers around. Be aware.

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