How to protect yourself when software scammers strike

When your software isn't cooperating or your social media service is being anything but social, you need help-stat. But many times, finding a customer service phone number online can be just as frustrating.

When Julia Roberts' favorite financial software program acted up, she did what she usually does when she needs help: "Google the company name and 'customer support.' and when I did, a number came up right away. A logo came up."

She called and says a knowledgeable person took over her computer screen and fixed her problem. All was good until she says she was almost talked into a $460 customer service contract.

Roberts said, "I was literally reaching for my wallet to get my credit card out when I just stopped and said, 'something's not right."

Julia quickly realized the URL did not match the company she thought she was calling and according to computer experts, that's a major red flag.

While some companies may be legit third parties, you may want to be extra cautious when searching for numbers online.

Steve Weisman of said, "Remember, scam artists are the only criminals we call 'artists', and they know that we are vulnerable here."

Vulnerable, experts like Steve Weisman say, because some businesses have either hard to find or no customer service numbers on their websites. Or people simply look for numbers through search engines.

And Weisman says scammers know that.

"So, what they're going to do is they're going to manipulate the algorithms that are used by search engines, so that when you look for a customer service number they are going to come up," Weisman said.

Julia says she hung up and contacted the software's real customer support number and agents told her the online helpers were not currently authorized for company support.

When she tried to go back and check that URL again?

"I went back to it and they had banned my IP address," explained Roberts.

Weisman says many times the main goal is to take your personal information or money. He says you should always look at the URL, like Julia did, and check a domain ownership site.
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