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BBB warns of new voice-cloning scams

(CNN/WREX) — The voicemail you think was left by a loved one may have been a big scam.

The Better Business Bureau is warning that scammers can now use new voice-cloning software.

The tech mimics voices from audio samples obtained by people talking through telemarketing and social media surveys. From there, scammers can use number spoofing to make the call look and sound like it's from someone you know convincing you to send them money.

Dennis Horton, the director of the BBB in Rockford, says asking questions is the best way to avoid the scam.

"If you ask questions, the technology is good, but it's not all that good that the answers are going to be immediate," Horton says.

The nonprofit says the scam may hit businesses first, but they don’t expect it to stop there.

The technology could also be used for emergency scams, which prey on people’s willingness to send money to a friend or relative in need. Also, with the United States in the midst of the 2020 election season, scammers could use the technology to mimic candidates’ voices and drum up “donations.”

The BBB also provided the following tips in addition to asking questions to avoid scams:

  • Secure accounts: Set up multifactor authentication for email logins and other changes in email settings. Be sure to verify changes in information about customers, employees, or vendors.
  • Train staff: Create a secure culture at your office by training employees on internet security. Make it a policy to confirm all change and payment requests before making a transfer. Don’t rely on email or voicemail.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose scammers’ tactics and prevent others from having a similar experience.

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University. He also been a producer and Assignment Editor at the station.

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