“Police warn of fake bank hotlines in Google search advertisements, victims lost $495,000”
Google Ads can be used for a variety of activities, including illegal and phishing activities. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of people being scammed by fake bank hotlines that were advertised through Google Ads. Victims lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in total as a result of these scams.
The method used by scammers is to put up an advertisement with a realistic looking bank hotline number. If you search for the name of your bank on Google, these advertisements may show up on top of the results page. However, these ads are actually not related to your bank at all – they are merely there only to fool victims into giving out their personal information.
Once victims call the hotline number on these ads, they are transferred to a different phone number which is manned by scammers. The scammers then pose as representatives from the bank’s customer service department, persuading victims to disclose their bank account details and passwords over the phone. The scammers will ask for this information in order to verify the victims’ identities, claiming that they need to do so in order to process their requests for a variety of things. If the victims agree, the scammers will then use this information to conduct unauthorized transactions from their accounts.
Just this year, at least 15 victims have fallen or such scams.
What can we take away from this?
Banks will never ask you to reveal your account details and passwords over the phone. If an entity ever asks you to do that, it is definitely a scam and you should hang up immediately.
You should also be cautious when clicking on advertisements, even if they seem to be from a trusted source such as Google. Always check the URL of the website before entering any personal information. If you suspect that an advertisement might be a scam, do not click on it and report it as spam instead.
Here are some tips on how to avoid getting taken in by these frauds:
- Do not click on URL links provided in unsolicited emails and text messages;
- Always verify the authenticity of the information with the official website or sources;
- Never disclose your personal or internet banking details and OTP to anyone; and
- Report any fraudulent credit or debit card charges to your bank and cancel your card immediately.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688. Anyone with information on these scams may also submit information through the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Let’s work together and stop these scams and prevent our loved ones from falling prey to them.