Facebook’s ‘Customer Service Number’ Can Lead to a Scam

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Most people probably wouldn’t think of calling Facebook directly if they experienced an issue with their account, but those who do Google the company’s customer service phone number could fall victim to a scam.

According to a report from NPR, at the time of their writing, the most relevant Google search result for “Facebook Customer Service” was the phone number 844-735-4595. However, Facebook has no such phone number, but no one searching Google would know that. To figure out just what this mysterious number was all about, NPR contacted a member of Pindrop—a company that specializes in phone scams—to call and pretend to be a Facebook user having trouble logging into their account. Once they called, they were put into contact with a man named Steven, who greeted the caller with “Thanks for calling Facebook.”

When told what the problem was, Steven gave the caller the following instructions: Go to Wal-Mart or Target, get an iTunes gift card, call the exact same customer service number again, and read off the security code included on the back of the card. That, in turn, would give the caller access to their account again (somehow). All it would really do, of course, is give Steve some free iTunes bucks and leave an unsuspecting caller $10, $25, or $50 lighter. Pindrop’s research traced the mysterious Steven back to India, but other than pretending to be a Facebook employee, not much else is known about this operation.

Though the scam might seem easy to spot for some, the term “Facebook Customer Service” is searched 27,000 times a month in the U.S. alone. And for a long time, what those people were seeing up at the top of the page was this bogus number (it was even featured on Google as a "featured snippet," making it look more official). While reporting on the scam, NPR contacted both Facebook and Google about the situation, and now the number no longer shows up as a featured result on the search engine. However, this number was passed around countless times before the scam was caught, so there’s no telling how long people will continue to see it on old message boards, Facebook threads, or by other means.

For what it’s worth, Facebook has no customer service number; in fact, if you search Facebook Customer Service now, one of the first links is this one, which directs you to a Facebook help center that includes the text: “There isn't a direct phone number that will connect you with Facebook support.”

It’s possible this scam was just associated with Facebook, but it’s hard to know for sure. The best thing to do if you're in need of customer service is to go to a company’s official website—if it has a customer service number, it will be on there somewhere. And if you’re ever asked to do something suspicious—like buy a gift card in order to access an account—you can take Consumerist’s advice and file a complaint with the FTC.