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You need to know about this slick cable or satellite TV scam

Callers offer to give you a break on your rising bill
Scammers posing as cable and satellite providers to push for 'equipment upgrades'
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 07:07:05-04

Everyone wants to save money on their TV bills, which can exceed $200 a month in some cases when you include streaming services and internet.

Unfortunately, scammers are posing as employees of your cable or satellite company -- all to get your personal information, or credit card numbers.

Tim Hoff's quiet moments keep getting interrupted by phone calls about his TV bill.

"One day it will be Spectrum, the next day DirecTV," he said. And his phone's caller ID often shows the company's name, in what's known as a "spoofed" call.

He says the callers promise to lower his bill if he just gives them some personal information, like account numbers.

"They tell me, 'we're offering a reduction on your TV.' So I can see how you might buy into that. You want lower rates, you give them your information." Hoff said.

The caller can be friendly or threatening

More and more people are getting calls like this, typically offering you a discount or rebate, though they can also be threatening, claiming you are behind on your payments and will be disconnected.

Mike Pedelty, a spokesperson for Spectrum, told us if you're hearing about a problem with your account for the first time over the phone, it's probably a scam call.

"If you think you're caught up on your bill," he said, "and all of a sudden you get this call, that's a red flag. We wouldn't be calling, and we certainly are not harassing customers."

Adam Levin, cyber security expert, and host of the podcast "What the Hack," says customers should also be on alert for strange payment requests such as buying and giving gift card numbers.

"Gift cards are the same thing as cash. People have to understand that," he said. "There's really no way to track it and there's no way to recall it."

Cable and satellite providers hope a new technology called STIR/SHAKEN will soon stop these spoofed calls, making it impossible for scammers to put phony phone numbers on your caller ID.

But the rollout is taking time.

If you get a strange call, Pedelty suggests you hang up and call the customer service number on your bill (not the number that called you.)

When Tim Hoff does that, he said, "they say it is not us, it is a scam call."

He wants you to know that, too, so you don't waste your money.

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