By Mike Wilcox
Scammers are everywhere these days, often where you least expect them.
I ran into a group a couple nights ago while trying to call Spectrum to fix my internet.
Spectrum wants you to make all inquiries online, so they do their best to hide their phone number. I, on the other hand, prefer to talk with a technician in person. Thus, I went to trusty Google to find their number. The first number to appear was an 855 number.
When I called it, a person with a thick accent immediately picked up. I found this curious as when I’d called Spectrum in the past, they never immediately picked up and you always had to answer prompts before talking to a real person.
The so-called Spectrum agent claimed he couldn’t understand me, therefore he had to call me back from another line. Again, very strange. But he immediately called back and began taking down my information.
He needed the address of my location, which because he couldn’t understand English very well took nearly 15 minutes of repeating one letter and digit at a time.
Again, this seemed curious because I presumed he could see my account at his end, should have been able to tell what my address and internet problems were. But he seemed more concerned with my address and sending a technician out to check the problem.
Then the $10 billion question came: “Sir, you will need to pay $100 to have a technician come to your home, therefore I need your credit card information.”
It finally occurred to me I was being scammed by a person or persons in Bangladesh, Malaysia or wherever he was calling from. I told him no way I would give him my credit card number. He became frustrated, and next thing I knew another male was on the line.
He claimed to be the supervisor and again demanded my credit card number. I told him I was seeking help with my internet and if you indeed represented Spectrum, you would never be asking for a credit card in advance. He didn’t like my answer and hung up.
I learned later that Spectrum might charge for a service call, but it was always added to your monthly statement. I was also told Spectrum hired mostly U.S. citizens who speak and understand English.
I write about this experience because I’m sure these scammers have been successful in conning many gullible citizens into parting with their credit card information.
Once they get those credit card numbers, they will be used to make all kinds of purchases. You probably also know it is nearly impossible to prosecute these scammers because they live or hide in countries not familiar to most of us.
So be cautious when calling an 800, or 833 or 855 number. They might be a legitimate business at the other end of the line, or it just might be a scammer waiting to pounce on your credit card data.
Be smart, don’t give it out until you have fully vetted who you are talking to.
By Mike Wilcox