Photo (cc) by markguim
Some consumers are getting phone calls notifying them of a Verizon account credit sometimes worth hundreds of dollars. Just go online to a specific Verizon-sounding website and claim it, the caller says.
But those calls aren’t from the company. “This is not a current promotion that we are offering,” a Verizon rep wrote on Facebook. “I would recommend that you do not follow the instructions you were given.”
Some people are falling for it. Alabama TV station 48 News had the story of a woman who followed the instructions from the 800 caller and later that day found that her phone and her husband’s phone had been disconnected. “Someone had hacked into their Verizon account, disconnected both lines, and tried to reconnect the same type of iPhone in Canada to make international calls,” 48 News said.
The scammer also gained access to bank account information linked to the phone line and tried to pay the bill, only to find it was an account the couple no longer used. The payment bounced, triggering an insufficient fund fee. There were also various fees Verizon charged for deactivation and reactivation, which after calls with the fraud department were ultimately waived. But it was an avoidable hassle.
This scam is a mix of identity theft and impostor scamming, two of the top consumer complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission. You can learn about them, and how to avoid them, in the video below:
The best way to avoid this kind of scam is to ignore the message unless you can independently verify its source. You can use a search engine to look up the best contact information for the company supposedly contacting you. In this case, a search for “Verizon” will reveal that Verizon customers can dial *611, and that the customer service line is (800) 922-0204.
Alternatively, you can look up the number that actually did call, in this case, “800-000-0000.” You’ll find out that many people have reported the calls and decided it’s a scam, that the amount of the supposed credit varies wildly, and that some callers claim AT&T, not Verizon, uses that number.