COLORADO SPRINGS — There are so many television cable, satellite and streaming options right now. It's a competitive business. So when someone reaches out to you about a promotion it may not seem like a red flag, but an unsolicited call promising to save you money may actually cost you more in the long run. That's the case in this DIRECTV scam call being reported to News5 by one of our viewers.
When someone claiming to be with DIRECTV calls you and says they can cut your future bills in half, most people will listen. But one of our viewers says it's all a sophisticated front for a costly scam.
"They knew my first and last name, they knew the address of my service, they knew my entire current plan that I had, what channels I pay for, what channels I wasn't paying for, they knew my account number and they knew I had a bill coming in 5 days and knew when it was due and the exact amount of the bill," Colorado Springs resident Steve Strahler told News5.
He says the person on the call was even able to change his channel lineup.
"As I sat there and watched, my TV my channel flashed and I now had Epix channels." Strahler said.
Now that the imposter had Strahler's attention, the scammer wanted him to pay money upfront for a discount on future bills and that upfront payment had to be in the form of eBay gift cards and then the money would be gone. Strahler contacted DIRECTV and discovered the promotion he had been offered was not legitimate.
"The reason I was able to get the channels real-time is the hacker had actually logged into my account with credentials never provided by me and updated my service as if they were me," said Strahler.
Surprisingly, fraud experts say they've heard of this happening before.
"A lot of the scammers are using customer information that they gather, maybe they purchase it off the web, or they got it from another location," said CSU Global Criminal Justice Program Chair "Dr. Fraud" J. Michael Skiba.
The Michigan Attorney General's Office has seen enough similar complaints that it is taking legal action to get some answers.Fraud prevention pros say Colorado consumers and our state's attorney general should pay attention.
"What that's going to do is the scammers are going to see that, so if the other states are not focusing on that then the scammers will absolutely leave Michigan and will on other areas, so that's why it's so important to have a unified front," said Skiba.
If you are being told to pay money upfront to save money on the back end of any bill, hang up and call the number on your bill to get the real answers.
The Federal Trade Commission just reported in the first nine months of 2021 it saw almost $150 million in gift card scams. Remember, gift cards are for gifts, not for payment.
Also, you can always contact us here at News 5 Investigates if you need help or want to raise awareness about a scam you were targeted by.
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