EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a letter sent to MuskogeeNOW.com by Chris Cummings. It is his opinion.
There is a very legitimate-sounding scam going around. You may receive a phone call saying that you are eligible for a 50% discount off of your DirecTV bill for the next 2 years. You don’t have to bundle other services, it was a deal they are offering to customers. According to the story I heard, it was due to a partnership with eBay and eBay is trying to break away from PayPal (1st alarm - as I believe PayPal is an eBay company) and going to their own credit cards and payment options. The caveat is, you have to pay the first 8 months up front with an eBay credit card (2nd alarm). But, wait, there’s more. If you don’t have an eBay credit card, well, you can go purchase an eBay gift card at any retailer for the amount of 8 months times your discounted rate (in my case, $560.00).
DING-DING-DING- 3rd alarm. Now that the full 3-alarm scam alert sounded in my head, there was no doubt left that this was a full-blown, well-developed scam.
So, to let you know how real this appeared to be, I am very skeptical when it comes to things like this, so I’m already on alert. When I call the number back, I get the traditional AT&T intro (tones included), they have current information about my bill – the amount I paid and when I paid it, and programming package information.
I did give them the PIN number to my account because, at this point, I actually believed I was talking to AT&T/DirecTV. When I was transferred to the billing account rep, the eBay caveat came into play and my spidey sense started screaming. I declined the offer and since I had already given them my PIN, I called the REAL AT&T/DirecTV and changed my PIN before any harm could come. Since they already have my phone number and now have my PIN, they could make changes to my account.
AT&T noted my account and verified nothing untoward had been done in the 5-minutes since I terminated the call with the scammer. I was told there was already an investigation into this scam. I told the account rep that it sounds like there was a data breach - she did not confirm nor deny, just re-stated that there is an investigation in progress.
So, if I as an IT professional was initially convinced this was legit, others may be also. Please, scrutinize every offer and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is. There may be other AT&T services targeted with this scam as well