They've been impersonating pizza places in North Carolina to steal information.

By Tim Nelson
December 16, 2019

Few things in this world are more universally loved than pizza. Few things are more annoying than robocalls and scams. That’s why an emerging type of scam spotted by the Better Business Bureau feels like a particularly heinous betrayal of trust, targeting both pizza lovers and the pie joints who dutifully serve them.

This isn’t some basic scam where a robotic voice offers you free pizza in exchange for your credit card info, but something more sophisticated and sinister. According to the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina, a scammer will go into a restaurant, asking to make the phone because of an emergency. Instead of making an actual call on the phone, they’re essentially rerouting the phone line to an untraceable number that they have control over.

Whenever customers subsequently dial the publicly-listed number for (what they think is) the targeted pizza joint, their calls are actually routed to scammers posing as employees of the pizza place. They’ll take your order like usual, but what they’re really after is your credit card info. By the time you think to call again to inquire about that pizza you ordered, they’ve probably already spent your money.

That scheme takes money out of a pizza place’s pocket and puts its customers in a bind. Unless you’ve memorized the sounds of employees’ voices at your go-to slice spot, you’re in trouble. “Unfortunately, this is a really difficult scam to identify ahead of time or while it’s taking place,” BBB employee Alyssa Parker told a North Carolina ABC affiliate in the region targeted by the scams.

All you can really do is deal with the fallout. To see if you’ve been victimized sooner rather than later, the BBB advises you to check your accounts very shortly after placing an order you think might be suspect, which can also be aided by turning on text alerts. Immediately order a new card if the old one was compromised. And always try to order pizza with a credit card (or offer to pay cash), since it probably offers more protections than a debit card (not to mention the fact that your money isn’t techinically leaving an account if you get scammed).

While it’s unclear if pizza places outside of North Carolina have been targeted, it’s worth playing it safe for the time being. If you’re unsure, you can always offer to place an order for pickup using cash and watch the scammers squirm.  

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