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Don’t be fooled by phoney phone deals

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Column by Cathy Williamson

Consumers are reporting to the BBB been ripped off by scammers posing as national telephone companies.

  •  Consumers say scammers are posing as AT&T technical support through emails and phone calls.

One consumer said, when trying to access her email, a dialog box popped up. The message stated her email may have been compromised and included a phone number to AT&T tech support. The consumer placed the call and it was answered by a business identifying itself as Q Tech Care/Expert Tech Support, and that it provided independent tech support for AT&T.

To prove its legitimacy and to gain her trust, the business provided the caller with an Internet address that would give more information. The website was fake and unfortunately she provided her personal and credit card information.

Another tactic used by the AT&T scammers is to promise cash as much as $350. All the consumer must do is go to the website and provide personal information. In exchange, the money would be credited to their accounts. The fake websites resemble the real AT&T website.

  •  Consumers say scammers are posing as Verizon Wireless customer support, offering a refund for bill overpayments. The scammers are using fake caller ID to spoof a genuine Verizon customer support number. The message comes as a robocall or voicemail.

Victims are directed to a realistic-looking website where they are asked for their Verizon account details as well as their credit card numbers. Other tactics involve discount offers, blocked accounts and past-due notices.

To avoid being scammed:

  •  Consider how the business normally contacts you. Beware of a departure from the normal routine. Some providers typically send customer’s text messages, so be wary of a phone call.
  •  Be extremely suspicious of any website wanting personal information. Most services and businesses that require personal identification already have the information from when you originally signed up, especially if the business is sending a message to you. They should not need your entire social security number or entire credit card number again.
  •  Contact the business directly. Always call the business customer support line to check the legitimacy of the offer. Be sure to find the phone number on your bill or by a web search, not the website the scammers gave you.
  •  Don’t always believe what you see. The website scammers created for this scam looks amazingly similar to the real site. Stealing logos, colors and graphics online is easy for scammers.

Just because it looks real, does not mean it is.

For more advice, go to www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.

Cathy Williamson is manager of the Lincoln Trail Area branch of the Better Business Bureau. She can be reached at 270-982-1289 or cwilliamson@bbbkyin.org.