Prepaid Card Scam
If the offer sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Keep reading to learn how they get you to do what they want.
The important thing to know first is that companies will not ask you to send payment on a prepaid card, especially from an unrelated company or service. If the offer requires that form of payment, it is very likely a scam.
HOW IT WORKS
You get a phone call and the caller starts by confirming all is good with your service. Then, they say you’ve been approved for a substantial discount or a great upgrade. All you have to do is pay a few months in advance on a prepaid gift card. That request for a prepaid card is a red flag. What the bad guy wants is your money on a prepaid card which cannot be traced or refunded.
You may also receive a text message on your phone. The message says you are eligible for a great upgrade and all you have to do is click the link they give or call the number provided. To make sure this is not a scam, call the customer service number on your bill and ask if the text is legitimate.
These bad guys can be very persuasive and make their calls or texts sound legitimate. They may even send you a fake promo code on your phone and ask you to read it back when you get it. That “promo code” is likely a temporary PIN giving them access to your account. Once they have it, they can make changes and charges, which you end up paying.
Once they have that access, the bad guys might even make real changes to your account to further trick you. They make a change, but you get the notification and believe it is legitimate.
What To Do
On the phone: Hang up and do not share any personal or account information, including the fake promo code that you received from them.
Text message: Do not click on any link offered or call a number provided. Check it out with customer service. If it’s a scam, delete the text.
Do not send them money or a prepaid gift card.
Yes: from time to time companies do offer discounts and special service deals.
No: companies will NOT ask you to send payment on a prepaid card, especially from an unrelated company or service.
If you get a scam call like this, call the customer service number on your bill and let the company know. The company can also confirm whether you are eligible for any legitimate discounts or upgrades.
To make the scam appear legitimate, the bad guys may 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.
Here is a transcript from what one of these calls may sound like:
The reason for my call is to inform you that your account has been qualified for discounted rates for your existing services for the next two years and your monthly bill will drop to only $62.50. That is a fixed billing plan for the next two years and on top of that you will get a free upgrade to 300 HD channels five movie premium channels and 31 HD sports channels. How does this promotion sound to you?
In order to activate this promotion, you have to prepay your account for the first four months in advance to the billing department. At $62.50 a month, our first prepay amount will be $250. After paying $250 you will not receive any bill from DIRECTV for four months and after that you will begin paying the monthly rate of $62.50 for the next 20 months. If you prepay $250 today, you will also get a $100 gift card as a complimentary gift from our sponsor partner [large internet retailer]. Is this something you can do today to take advantage of this wonderful offer?
Ok… I am going to transfer your call to a promotion specialist who will generate a promo code for you to get this offer. Can you hold on for a few seconds?
(At this point, they send you a fake code.)
Can you read me that promo code to confirm? And then, send in a prepaid card along with the code, to our address.
So, when you get a call like this, don’t provide a PIN that has been sent to your phone. Do not send them anything. They will take your money, you will not have those channels added to your service and you will get a bill the next month for your service.
When you call in to complain, the customer service representative will not see any of this as having occurred to your account and will inform you that you have been scammed. You are out $250.
If you question the bad guy, this is how they might try to convince you.
Bad Guy rebuttal:
I understand your concerns but your services will not change and you don’t have to pay over the phone. You don’t have to share any financial information with me. You can save a lot of money over the next two years.
As you know, DIRECTV recently merged with AT&T and now we are revising our rates and we have sponsor partners to help.