CHARLESTON, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey warned of a promotion scam Tuesday that deceives consumers and lures them into providing cash or personal information in exchange for fraudulent discounts, upgrades or billing credits.
Those perpetrating the scam often claim to represent an established utility, service provider or other familiar company, such as satellite or cable television providers.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received word of the scam circulating throughout West Virginia, including Berkeley, Cabell, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Logan, Raleigh and Wetzel counties. In one instance, a consumer reportedly paid the impostor more than $5,000 in gift cards.
“Everyone wants a discount or the latest upgrade, however, consumers must be cautious with any unexpected offer,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Scams often play on one’s emotions with hopes to pressure the victim to act out of fear or excitement. Be calm, ask questions and never give money or information to a stranger.”
The scam typically involves a surprise, unsolicited call. The impostor will entice consumers with a fraudulent promotion and then, oftentimes, ask for credit card numbers, bank accounts and other information falsely claiming a need to confirm the account holder’s identity.
Those who fall victim have been known to mail checks and purchase gift cards in addition to having provided personal information.
Delegate Mick Bates, R-Raleigh, 30, who has been largely involved with southern West Virginia’s fight against Suddenlink after hundreds of customers expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s randomly fluctuating bills and poor customer services practices, says several Suddenlink customers have informed him of telephone scams from a “Suddenlink representative” offering a special promotion and asking for financial information.
Bates has been compiling customer complaints for weeks- which he plans to take to Suddenlink for ratification- but says his first scam complaint popped up two weeks ago. Since then, he has received numerous complaints from customers, who have all described the same phone call.
Bates believes this is an organized effort that has arisen from the recent attention brought to Suddenlink. During a recent public hearing meeting held by the Public Service Commission at the Raleigh County Courthouse, Suddenlink representatives said the company recognized that some customers were experiencing issues and were taking their commitment of providing quality connectivity and reliable service seriously. Bates said this is the perfect opportunity for scammers to take advantage of unhappy customers.
Bates told Lootpress that he reached out to Suddenlink about the recent scams and was informed that Suddenlink will never ask for financial information over the phone, as they already have said information on file. Additionally, the scam artists were asking for modem numbers. Suddenlink informed Bates that scammers will not be able to hack into customer’s systems with this information, as the company has all technology on lockdown.
The Attorney General urges anyone receiving such calls to follow these tips:
- End the call.
- Be wary of any unsolicited offer, even if the caller has one’s actual account information.
- Call the company’s legitimate phone number to verify any promotion.
- Stay calm and do not feel pressured.
- Never pay in advance via cash, check, wire transfer, gift cards or numbers associated with a credit/debit card or bank account.
- Never share personally identifiable, financial or otherwise sensitive information without verifying the legitimacy of the recipient.
- Beware of call spoofing. Scammers can mimic a legitimate phone number to lure consumers to believe the incoming call comes from a recognizable business.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a promotion scam, should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.