Here is the important thing to know: Most companies, including AT&T and DIRECTV, will not ask for payment on a prepaid card like a gift card. This is especially true when the prepaid card is for a totally unrelated company or service. If someone tries to sell you services or an upgrade this way, it’s a big red flag that says, “Scam!”
How it Works
The scammers are tricky, and they may approach you in a number of ways. You may get a call to confirm that all is good with your service. Then they say you’ve been approved for a discount or upgrade. All you have to do is pay a few months in advance on a prepaid gift card. They want the money this way because it can’t be traced or refunded.
Other ways they may try to get your money is by saying there are issues with past payments, or technical upgrades or service modifications requiring a one-time payment for your service to continue uninterrupted.
These scams can be very sophisticated and convincing. Bad guys may use wording or sounds, such as tones and music, which mimic those used by an actual company. If you do call them back, they may have an automated phone system which shares “options” – all to fake you out. So don’t fall for the scam just because it sounds legitimate.
Always remember: Don’t pay with a prepaid card. But also watch for them asking for immediate payment using other methods, such as a checking account, debit or credit card.
What To Look For
Here are three possible scenarios that ultimately can lead to a bad guy asking for payment.
- Pretending to be a company representative, the bad guy will convince you he works for the company to get enough information from you to access your account. With that, he can make real-time changes you can see, such as adding an upgrade. Then he says you qualify for a promotion, if you pay in advance, such as with a prepaid card. To make it seem even more legitimate, the bad guy can make fake payments to your account. You will initially see a credit. But those payments never go through and the credit is removed. When you get your next bill, you will be charged the full amount for the upgrade with no promotion, and you’ve lost the money you sent to the scammer.
- The bad guy tells you he sent a “promo code” to your phone while he is chatting with you. He will ask you to read it back. The number is actually a temporary PIN code he caused the legitimate company to send to your phone by pretending to be you. He doesn’t actually know the PIN number until you read it to him. Once you read it, you’ve given him the ability to access your account. This can be followed by inviting you to pay for the promotion with a prepaid gift card or other immediate payment option.
- You receive a phone call, text message or email. It says that you should click the link or call the number for a great upgrade or to resolve an issue that could lead to an interruption in your service. Don’t call that number or click the link. Instead, call the customer service number on your regular bill and ask if the message is legitimate. These may be attempts to gain access to your account or scam you, which can include requests for immediate payment.
We don’t ask for payment with a prepaid card. If someone tries to sell you services or an upgrade this way, it is likely a scam.
To make the scam appear legitimate, the bad guys may also spoof a company phone number. To learn more about spoofing and how to better protect yourself, read this Cyber Aware blog on spoofing.
AT&T Call Protect uses call and data patterns to help detect malicious activity and keep you more protected. To learn more, visit AT&T Mobile Security & Call Protect.
Report suspicious calls to our Fraud Department here.