A steep discount on your monthly cable bill? This may sound like a great way to save money, but it could be the set up for a scam. Con artists are impersonating cable companies and taking advantage of subscribers` eagerness to save money.
How the Scam Works:
You get a call, and it`s someone claiming to be a representative from your cable provider`s 'loyal rewards' program. The caller offers you a significant discount on your monthly cable and/or service. For $80 per month, you can get phone, broadband Internet, and the premium cable channels. This package would typically run subscribers well over $100/month.
Of course there`s a catch! You need to pay for six months of the discounted rate upfront. And this 'representative' doesn`t take credit cards, only pre-paid debit cards. Using one of these cards is as untraceable as paying in cash.
According to BBB Scam Tracker reports, lately con artists are impersonating Comcast, but they will likely move on to other cable providers as the scam expands. Also, reports say that scammers frequently have personal information about targets, such as address, phone number and current level of service, making this con very believable.
Tips to avoid a utility scam:
- Cable companies aren't the only utilities that scammers impersonate. Watch out for variations involving electricity, gas and other bills.
- Prepaid debit cards are a red flag: If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check, credit card or online banking transfer.
- Don`t cave to pressure to pay immediately: If you feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative.
- Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
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