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Security & privacy

Warning: Scammers are pretending to be your cable and internet company

Scammers employ seemingly endless means to trick people out of their money or personal data. And it’s not always through email — some even go so far as to physically mail you malware in the post. Tap or click here for tips on spotting counterfeit packages.

Other crooks go for the tried-and-tested method of pretending to be a government agency or a local utility company. Once they have access to your details, they can use them to commit identity fraud or steal your money.

Read on for tips on spotting criminals who impersonate your cable or internet provider and what you can do about it.

Here’s the backstory

It’s not uncommon for your utility company or internet provider to mail you money-saving discounts or upgrade offers. But whenever you receive communication over the phone that promises a good deal, you must be cautious.

The FTC has received thousands of complaints from customers who received a call with an offer to lower their monthly TV, cable or internet bill in exchange for a pre-payment or fee. As it turns out, the calls are from scammers — and they’re targeting older adults.

The scam is relatively simple and usually involves a phone call, recorded message or text with an offer to lower your monthly payments. The person on the other end will explain that in order to qualify for the discount, you must pre-pay part of the bill.

But the hook to the scam is they insist you do so through gift cards — a red flag in any circumstance. One variation also requires you to supply some personal information that can be used in other scams. Yikes.

What you can do about it

Here’s what you can do to steer clear of these criminals:

  • Keep it to yourself: Never give out your personal, account or payment information to someone who contacts you out of the blue and demands it.
  • This is never legitimate: There is no reason why you should have to pre-pay for a discount with gift cards — or at all.
  • Don’t always trust caller ID: Scammers can fake caller ID so it shows a company’s name or phone number. If you aren’t sure, hang up immediately and call the company directly.
  • Sense of urgency: Anyone who tells you to “act now” or makes you feel rushed and anxious is likely a scammer.

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