Scam Alert: Don't Fall for Fake Heavily Discounted Phone, Internet or Cable Service Offer
scammers claim to be from a Company you use and offer a huge discount in exchange for a large upfront Prepayment
Who doesn't want to save money? You probably pay a lot of money for your monthly phone, cable or Internet bill. So it's good news when the company calls you with an offer to significantly lower those bills. But not so fast! Scammers are taking advantage of your desire to save money. So if you receive a call from someone who claims to be able to drastically lower your bill, it's probably a scam.
unsolicited call from loyal rewards program
You get a call from someone claiming to be a representative of the company's 'loyal rewards' program. The caller offers you a significant discount on your monthly service, claiming that for a small fee per month you can get something that would ordinarily cost you a lot of money. This might be expanded calling areas, higher Internet speeds, or all the premium cable channels.
Here's the catch
The caller tells you that before you can take advantage of the deal, you have to pay a much larger fee upfront, which could be a service fee or a prepayment of the first six months of service. This may seem legitimate, but it's not. Most often, you'll have to use an untraceable prepaid debit card to make the payment in order to take advantage of the deal. You should stop right there and hang up.
Prepaid debit cards and gift cards are a red flag of any scam
If anyone is asking you to pay money via a prepaid debit card or gift card, you're dealing with a scam. No legitimate company or government agency will ever ask for a payment this way. So if someone is asking you to pay by prepaid debit card or a gift card, stop what you are doing and don't respond anymore. Once you give a prepaid debit card or gift card number to a scammer, it's gone forever and there's no way to get it back.
Wire transfers are also a red flag, but some legitimate companies, such as utilities, do accept wire transfers. But the difference is that those companies will also accept a check, credit card, or online transfer.
Pay by credit card if ever in doubt
Credit cards often get a bad reputation because of how easily they can be misused by inexperienced people. But they are one of the best ways of making a payment if you are unsure of whether you will get the product or service promised. You can decline a credit card transaction if you don't get what you expect or are promised. Most credit card companies require you to dispute the charge within sixty (60) days of the statement date showing the transaction. But many will allow you to dispute a transaction after more time has passed, especially if you are a great customer or can document that you've been trying to work with the other party. So if you are unsure if you are working with a scammer, a credit card is the way to go. Even if the scammer is able to use your credit card number to commit fraud, you can still clean up the mess fairly easily with little to no liability on your end.
scammers often have some of your personal info
Scammers know a little about you already, which is how they are able to target you and make the interaction seem authentic. It's pretty easy to find a little bit of information about you online or by grabbing some of your mail from your mailbox. You may have completed an online form hosted by the scammers looking to collect some of this info. In any case, the scammers are able to use this limited amount of information to make you think you are talking to a company representative.
Don't cave in to pressure to pay immediately
If you feel pressured to provide immediate payment or personal information, hang up. You can then call the customer service number on your cable/utility bill to ensure that you are speaking to a real representative. Scammers often use these high pressure tactics in order to get you to pay up without having time to check into the situation.
Never let anyone into your home
Sometimes the scammers will try getting into your home by pretending to be representatives of these companies. The reasons vary, but many of them are trying to get more personal information from you, are trying to steal information you may have lying around, or are trying to get a quick cash payment. Never let anyone inside your home unless you have called to request it, and only during your scheduled appointment. Never be afraid to ask for proper identification.
REPORT ALL SUSPECTED SCAMS
If you are or suspect that you are the victim of a scam or some other illegal practice, you should file a complaint. Doing so can help protect your rights and protect others from becoming victims. If you suspect you are dealing with a scamming, you should first stop all contact to minimize that chances of further losses. Don't respond to scammers via phone, text message, email or postal mail.
In North Carolina, you can report scams and other illegal practices to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office. If you live outside North Carolina, report it to your state Attorney General. You can also submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is co-sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).