Consumer Investigation: A scam targeting Spectrum customers. Here’s what to look out for
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We investigate consumer scams every day, but this one was really unsettling. Folks in our area are getting automated calls from someone who claims to be from Spectrum, offering half off your monthly bill for two years. A cheerful recorded female voice says, “Hi there. I’m calling you from Spectrum to let you know that your Spectrum account is qualified for 50 percent off. In order to avail the discount, call us back at 855-660-6911.”
So I contacted Spectrum and a spokesperson emphatically confirmed that the call is a scam. She wrote, “Similar to many large companies, we’re not immune to these types of scam calls. Most importantly, when a customer is suspicious, they should contact us to confirm the validity of any offer on our services.”
So of course, I called the scammer to find out how he’s trying to take your money. First, he asked for the phone number associated with my Spectrum account. I gave him a fake number. And he knew there was not an account associated with that number. So, I called again with a different strategy.
When I called the scammer’s number, I got an authentic-sounding recorded message instructing me to press a number for a menu of choices. I was then placed on hold with annoying muzak, furthering the impression the call was authentic. Finally, I got a representative with a heavy South Asian accent who called himself Travis.
“How long is the 50 percent offer good?” I asked. He told me I’d get the discount for two years and asked me for my phone number so he could verify my account.
At this point I knew I’d have to give him the number of an actual Spectrum customer to learn more about the nature of his scheme. Because I’m a Spectrum customer, I gave him my number, assuming the scammer was trying to access my account by using the tools for customers who have forgotten their username or password. When you type in the phone number associated with the account, Spectrum then sends a code by text or email to verify it’s you. Often scammers will then ask the customer to read him the code, pretending to be verifying your account, but instead the customer has unwittingly given him access. I thought that was his scheme, and when he asked for the code, I’d tell him he’d been caught.
But instead, he said he had my checking account on file, and he read me the last four numbers of my actual joint account with my husband. At this point, the scammer didn’t even know my name. He only had my number. Uh-oh. What other information does he have access to? It was time to find out.
“This is Deanna Dewberry with News10NBC,” I told him. “And I have learned from Spectrum that there is no 50-percent-off deal. That would mean you’re a scammer, correct?
The thief then repeated the claim that he had my account number and insisted he was with Spectrum’s promotions department. Then he hung up.
I’m fairly certain the thief doesn’t have my entire account number because there hasn’t been fraudulent activity. He was obviously able to access some information and was digging for more.
I asked Spectrum whether it had experienced a data breach. A spokesperson denied it and insisted that the thief could have gotten access to my account another way. But that’s unlikely. The thief didn’t know my name. He had only my phone number. Therefore, it stands to reason that he had access to information that links my phone number and the last four digits of my account number.
I’m going to continue to investigate this matter. In the meantime, you this scammer calls you, hang up.