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How Googling something can lead to an empty bank account

All too often, people are caught by fraudsters who are on the prowl for their bank details. You may already know what a typical phishing message in your mailbox looks like. But did you know that an innocent Google search can also lead to an empty bank account?

Miguel De Bruycker, director of the Centre for Cyber security Belgium (CCB) and Karel Van Eetvelt, CEO at Febelfin, explain how this is possible.

Miguel De Bruycker:

Scammers are always looking for new ways to trick people. At the moment, they are turning Internet search engines into a loyal ally. If you are looking for a certain customer service via Google (Gmail, Yahoo, Kaspersky, Outlook, etc.), you can be taken to a fake website. That website will show a phone number. If you call them, you won't get a real employee on the line, but a scammer. At first, they seem willing to help you, but be careful: at the end of the call, they will ask you to make a payment, they will take control of your PC and you are left with an empty account.

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Karel Van Eetvelt:

In the meantime, Febelfin and the CCC have had the fraudulent phone number blocked and the references have been removed from the search engines. But a new phone number could show up online tomorrow, of course. The message is therefore: be vigilant. Never give your bank details by e-mail, text message or, in this case, telephone. Do not allow someone you don't know to take over your computer. And don't make any payments while someone's taken over your computer.


OK, you know this now, but how do you contact a company's real customer service?

You can use a search engine, but make sure that you click on a result in the search results that refers to the real name of the company. Klantenservicebelgie.be (which is a fake domain by the way) won't help you find the number for Google, for example. You should go to www.google.be.

Below are some examples of fake websites:

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