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Phone Scam could target LOU Community

A new scam could be affecting residents of the LOU community, especially those with AT&T cell phone services.

Oxford resident Effie Burt said she received a call on July 19 at approximately 5 p.m. from a phone number that appeared on Caller ID as an AT&T corporate line. Having just paid her bill and settling in for the evening, Burt said she was reluctant to answer, but because it seemed credible, she did.

“The guy on the phone said he was from DirecTV, and since they’re owned by AT&T, he could save me a lot of money. I thought it was really weird, because that’s not DirecTV’s number,” Burt said. “So I asked how much, and he said he could sell me a two-year plan for $90, but I had to pay it that day in order to get the promotion. So, I asked what he needed, and he said he needed my checking account information.”

Burt said her oldest sister had been the victim of a scam before, so she knew something wasn’t right about this mystery caller.

This type of scam isn’t new. News reports from across the country dating back to December 2017 detail similar incidences – some victims, unfortunately, weren’t so lucky. The tricky thing, just as in Burt’s case, is that the callers knew her AT&T account information and could possibly use it against her.

“I was kind of bored and didn’t have anything I needed to do, so I gave him a bunch of [checking account] numbers, and he said, ‘No, go back. This isn’t right. Read me off the right numbers,’” Burt said. “Because I was bored, I kept giving him crazy numbers, and he eventually hung up on me.”

Burt said she immediately called AT&T customer service, who directed her to DirecTV’s phone number. When she spoke with a representative from DirecTV, Burt said she was told they had been receiving calls all day with similar issues. It wasn’t clear, she said, if the companies had notified customers or law enforcement about potential scammers, however.

The attempted phone scam exhibited several tell-tale signs, according to AT&T’s e-support site.

The website encourages customers to be wary of any unrecognizable caller who asks for personal information, payment in non-standard forms, claims the person is a contest winner or makes the matter seem irrationally urgent.

At the end of the day, Burt said she’s lucky she wasn’t fooled, and wants to make sure others keep their wits about them.

“No one wants to pay a lot of money for cable. Anyone would want to try to get something cheaper, but it just didn’t sound right,” she said. “The guy was so anxious that I read the numbers wrong – which I did on purpose. I just wanted to let the public know it could be a problem.”

To file a complaint about a possible scam, consumers should file a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov. To learn more about phone-in scams that are circulating in the area, visit https://www.att.com/esupport.