Scammers are hijacking phone calls made through Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri

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(Image credit: Amazon)

A new report has cautioned that scam artists are hijacking telephone calls made through popular digital assistants Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa.

According to the warning from the Better Business Bureau, asking your virtual butler to dial a company for you can be risky, as the call may be forwarded to scammers instead of the business you're trying to contact.

Crooks are creating fake customer service pages and phone numbers for well-known companies, using a number of methods including paying for advertising to move their fraudulent listings to the top of search results. 

As digital assistants often use internet searches to find the information requested by the user, a high placement can be all it takes for your digital assistant to dial an impostor phone number instead of a genuine help line.

How to use your digital assistant safely

If you're using Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa to make calls to companies, there are a number of tell-tale signs that you may be talking to a con-artist rather than a legitimate customer service representative. 

The Better Business Bureau points out that fraudsters will often ask you to pay for services by wire transfer or using a prepaid debit card. One incident highlighted by the organisation saw a potential victim asked to pay $400 in prepaid gift cards for changing seats on a flight.

Scammers may also try to convince you to grant them remote access to your computer, or look to direct you to a dodgy website in attempt to infect your system with malware.

As such, it's advisable to look up phone numbers for important calls directly, making sure that you obtain then from official company websites. 

Paying for transactions by credit card where possible is also wise, as it's easier to dispute charges should you need to – never pay by wire transfer or using a gift card.

Digital assistants are great for telling you the weather, reminding you of important meetings, and firing up your favorite tunes in instant. 

But when it comes to booking your next holiday? You might want to take the extra 30 seconds to locate the relevant phone number manually, rather than just barking at your virtual helper.

Ordering a pizza is probably still OK, though.

James Laird

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.