We are hearing more and more every week about artificial intelligence.
2023 may go down as the year of the AI chatbot, as Microsoft and other companies bring it to the mainstream.
More and more firms — from retailers to airlines — are using AI robots to handle customer questions, while resume companies are using it to write resumes and answer job questions.
But it can also be used in more devious ways, as some people are learning.
Who is this in our chat group?
Melissa Jones said she was fooled by a chatbot a couple of years ago when she learned that one of the women in her mom's chat group wasn't really a woman at all.
"I went to look in my list of contacts, and there was a chatbot. With a real name, like Zo, and a real picture," she told us.
There among her fellow moms was Zo, a 20-something AI robot.
Her photo was strangely blurry, but Jones said "a lot of people don't take great pictures, so if you saw it there you might not think anything about it."
It turns out Zo was placed there — and in thousands of other "ME" groups — by Microsoft, which moderated the chats.
After complaints from people like Jones, Microsoft eventually shut down Zo, an early experiment in AI.
Scammers zero in on chatbots
But Zo, and what Microsoft is now offering on Bing, is harmless compared to some new AI bots that scammers are using.
A new report in Security.org says phishing emails — like some claiming to be from Facebook — are sending people to chat scammers, who threaten to delete your Facebook account if you don't give them personal information.
Security.org said others pretend to be from delivery services like FedEx and DHL, who then ask you for personal info. If you question them, you get very realistic answers.
Melissa Jones is just glad that the chatbot Zo is now gone.
"It was just weird," she said. "A lot of people didn't know so it just caught people off guard."
But Zo never asked for personal information or account numbers. She was just there to help keep chat groups engaged.
Nowadays, an alert from your bank, or a strange Facebook friend request, could now be an AI chatbot, that will communicate and attempt to convince you they are real.
So be suspicious of people you don't know, so you don't waste your money.
"Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com