Facebook now has nearly 1.8 billion active users, and counting — so how could the social media giant possibly keep up with customer service complaints, questions, issues etc.?
Well, they don’t, really. In the words of the Consumerist, Facebook is ‘notoriously difficult to deal with’ — so when users want to contact the company, they often turn to Google and other resources to find some type of reliable contact information that can help them resolve their issue.
In fact, Google data shows that ‘Facebook customer service’ gets searched about 27,000 times a month in the U.S.
Beware of scammers offering bogus Facebook customer service help
This common search is no secret — so scammers have jumped on the opportunity to ‘help’ Facebook users resolve their customer service issues.
And if you fall for it, you could be out of a lot of money.
According to a new report by NPR, when you search ‘Facebook customer service,’ one of the first things to pop up is a phone number: 844-735-4595.
If you call the number, an actual person picks up on the other end — but it’s not anyone affiliated with Facebook in any way.
When NPR handed the number over to phone fraud and security company Pindrop, a researcher called up and pretended to be a Facebook user looking for help.
The researcher was connected to a guy named ‘Steven’ who was located at a call center in India posing as an official Facebook employee. According to Pindrop, ‘Steven’ answered the phone by saying, ‘Thanks for calling Facebook.’
Knowing the guy was not actually affiliated with Facebook, the researcher played along and said he was locked out of his account and needed help getting back in.
The big red flag: How to protect yourself
Steven’s advice for the caller? Go to a Walmart or Target and buy an iTunes gift card that comes with a 16-digit security code on the back.
‘You need to call us back on this same number and provide me that 16-digit security code so that I can activate that access and we’ll be giving you the password for your new — for your old account,’ Steven told the researcher, according to NPR.
That’s a huge red flag that something isn’t right — as NO legitimate social media site or other company would ever ask or require you to buy an iTunes gift card to get access to your account.
This method of theft — asking consumers to pay via iTunes gift cards — is being carried out by crooks in all different types of scams, including both phone and online scams.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even has a warning about it: “If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card.”
And you can use the same rule of thumb for any other type of gift card or reloadable card.
What to know about contacting Facebook
Google isn’t the only place where that bogus phone number, and other fake support numbers, have shown up.
‘That number and others have been circulating on Facebook itself, on pages where users are asking for help, for at least a year,’ says NPR. ‘In one instance, a user asked whether the number was valid and a member of the company’s Help Team responded: ‘There isn’t a number to contact Facebook. … It sounds like the email or notification you saw is likely a scam.’ It’s unclear whether the Help Team member reported it to her superiors to investigate.’
And just to clarify, Facebook does NOT have a phone number that users can call. If you need assistance, you have to go through the company’s online help center.