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.
Here is the important thing to know: A company will not ask you to send a payment on a prepaid gift card. This is especially true when the prepaid card is for a totally unrelated company or service. This is big red flag that says, “Scam!”
HOW IT WORKS
Sadly, the scammers are tricky. 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.
What To Look For
Here are three scenarios. With each one, all you have to remember is: Don’t pay with a prepaid gift card.
- You receive a text message. It says that you should click the link or call the number for a great upgrade. Don’t call that number or click the link. Instead, call the customer service number on your regular bill and ask if the text is legitimate.
- The bad guy sends 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.
- The bad guy uses his access to your account to make real-time changes you can see, such as adding an upgrade. This looks legitimate. But he’s asking you to pay with a prepaid card. The full charge for the upgrade will appear on your normal bill, and you’ve lost the money you sent to the scammer.
The good news is that you don’t have to remember all these crazy scams. Just remember this: We don’t ask for payment with a prepaid gift card.
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.
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.