Consumer Alert: How are scammers getting access to DirecTV account info? What our investigation reveals
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We want you to know we keep our promises. I told you two months ago about a sophisticated scam targeting DirecTV customers. This scam is really troubling because the scammers appear to know personal account information. I promised you I’d keep digging, and I found out this scam is widespread and each victim’s reported experience is markedly similar.
Here’s how it works: Victims get a call from someone who claims to be a DirecTV customer service representative who says the company is sponsoring a promotion with eBay. The scammer says you can get DirecTV for 20 months at half price if you pay for four months upfront.
And here’s the kicker: The scammer wants you to pay with eBay gift cards. And when you do, your money is gone. News10NBC viewer Margaret Whalen didn’t fall for it, but she says the scammers were really convincing.
She’s not alone. Robert, another News10 NBC viewer wrote, "I got a phone call from these people and they also had the exact amount my bill was, and I just don’t know how they could have gotten it. I know it did not come from my end because I communicate with DirecTV with snail mail only."
So I consulted with my consumer investigative colleague at Elliott Advocacy. It’s a non-profit group that supports consumers.
Michelle Couch-Friedman has been investigating this scam as well.
She wrote, Almost every consumer who contacts us says they’ve been tricked because the person seems to know some personal details about their account. But what I believe to be the case is that these consumers don’t realize that they’re giving critical details to the scammers. In fact, in some cases, the scammers are asking for the "password" or "account verification" which the consumer then gives."
That’s also what I’ve found as well. These crooks are very convincing. Whalen told me the scammers asked for her online verification code and she gave it to them, believing they were DirecTV representatives. That likely gave the crooks access to the rest of her account information.
But that doesn’t explain how they knew Whalen’s name and phone number and that she was a DirecTV customer.
And how did they get Robert’s information? He doesn’t even have an online account. DirecTV spokesperson, Thomas Tyrer wrote, “If someone offers a great deal but demands payment in advance with a gift card, it’s a scam. It’s also important to note that we will never ask for payment for any services using a prepaid gift card. We did not find evidence of a breach. We encourage customers to contact our fraud department if they suspect they are the victim of a scam.”
While the company didn’t find evidence of a breach, Tyrer did not provide an explanation for how scammers got access to DirecTV customers.
That means I have more work to do. In the meantime, DirecTV customers, you’ve been warned.
If someone calls about a promotion with DirecTV and eBay, hang up.