New scam uses trustworthy names

There is a scam going around that mimics a real valid offer so much so that it's hard to know which is which. This came to use from Call for Action, our all-volunteer unit. They get your calls, so they are sometimes the first to see a new scam form. In this case, the scammers are taking three legitimate companies - names you trust - and luring people in.

Walton Country resident Janet Jackson tells us how it happened to her.

"I received a call from an 888 number."

That's how this scam starts, with a call, and a few familiar ingredients.  Legit companies Amazon, AT&T, and Direct TV are the bait.

"He said he was with Direct TV. His name was Joe and he said he knew that I had an AT&T account and a Direct TV account."

All true. Her cable is from Direct TV.  Her phone service is from AT&T, so this put Ms. Jackson at ease.

Now that you're listening, the scammer gets to down business.

"He said they were doing a  promotion, merging both accounts together."

Here comes the math. In the end he said if this Walton County mom paid $440 upfront then she'd see a monthly savings of $139.  Again, he got her attention.  Besides, AT&T bought Direct TV, so it's not a far-fetched pitch.

Here's how he makes his money.

"You need to purchase an Amazon gift card," she said she was told.

Load it with $440, call back and pay the bill two months in advance, he said.   She did.

"When you call back it's the exact Direct TV recording that we hear all the time."

And just like that she's out $440 because it wasn't really a combo promotion with AT&T, Direct TV and Amazon.

In an email from AT&T, a spokesman said to be careful, the caller doesn't really know you're a customer, but fishes for the answer. "The scammer will ask a few questions which will quickly help them ID whether or not that person is a customer."

Janet got her money back from AT&T but when she called Call for Action she wasn't thinking about that all. She just wanted to send out a warning.

"Whether I get my money or not it needs to be put out there that there's a scam going on."

In the end, AT&T gave Janet Jackson an account credit of $440.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from these type of scams, take a look at AT&T's own website warning.