I almost fell for a DirecTV phone scam! – Julie’s gadget diary

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directv scam 3

ARTICLE – In order for this story to make a little more sense (and so you won’t think I’m a complete moron), you first need to go read my DirecTV cord-cutting article from yesterday. But if you don’t want to read that article (it’s really good by the way…) here’s a quick summary…

Once upon a time at the Gadgeteer household…

At the beginning of January, I told Jeanne that DirecTV was planning to raise their prices and that I thought we should try a trial run of cutting the cord which we’ve talked about doing many times but never really tried. I got the thumb’s up from Jeanne, so I called DirecTV and told them that I wanted to pause/suspend the service while we tried streaming. They offered to give me a $50 per month discount on my bill for 1 year if we didn’t pause the service. I said I’d talk to my spouse about it but wanted to go ahead with the pause. We’ve paused DirecTV service in the past when we’ve had home remodels and weren’t able to watch TV (we only have one TV in the house) and appreciated being able to stop service and not being charged while we not using the service. I ended the call with DirecTV with the service suspended.

Later that night we streamed a show and then went back and forth not knowing what to watch next. Jeanne wanted to just put HGTV on in the background while we surfed which is what we usually do and when I told her we couldn’t do that now she gave me a pained look. I then asked her if she wanted me to call the next day and take DirecTV up on their $50 per month discount offer. She said yes. And that ended our cord-cutting experiment – or so I thought.

The next morning I called DirecTV to resume/unpause the service but was told that I couldn’t do that and my suspension had to remain for a minimum of 30 days. I complained because that’s a really stupid policy. But the complaints fell on deaf ears. So I ended the call.

Then one day later…

I was talking to my sister on Marco Polo (an app sorta like Facetime but not) when a call came in from a number that I didn’t recognize so I rejected the call but a few seconds later I saw that I had a voicemail that had been transcribed into text.

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My immediate thought was that I’d called back too soon to have my DirecTV account resumed and that they were going to let me do it after all. So I called the number and was greeted with the regular DirecTV tune/jingle, the same voice recording, phone tree instructions, etc that I’d dealt with just a couple of days prior. When I got the DirecTV rep on the line, he asked for my PIN number and then asked me what I needed. I told him that I received a voicemail that I was eligible for a $50 per month discount for 1 year and that I wanted to take that deal and explained that my account was currently suspended and that the other person I’d talked to said they couldn’t unpause it. The new guy said that there was no reason why my account could not be resumed and that he would do that for me. He then told me that I would be able to get a 50% discount for 2 years and could also choose from HBO/Starz or an ESPN sports package. I was confused because that was a much different deal than I was previously offered and I told him that. He explained that it was a special deal going on right now. My spidey senses started tingling so I asked him to tell me my DirecTV account number and he told me to hold the line and came back within a minute and had my correct account number and even told me what my last bill amount was. My spidey senses calmed… until…

He told me that in order to get the deal that I would have to pay the first 5 months upfront and then the rest of the 2 years would be billed normally. There go my spidey senses again… AND then he told me that I’d have to pay via an eBay account and if I didn’t have an eBay account I could get an eBay gift card and use that. At that point, my spidey senses were on full alert and I laughed and told him nice try, thanks for the scam, and hung up on him. I then immediately called the REAL DirecTV and changed my PIN number and asked them to put a note in my account about the fraud attempt. The guy I talked to said that he’d had 3-to 4 calls in the last month about this same scam. And just like the others, he couldn’t reactivate my suspended/paused account.

If I’d not already been dealing with DirecTV just a couple of days prior to the scam call, I would have never fallen for the scam but the fact that everything from the recorded greeting to the phone tree and that they were able to give me my account number (by using my PIN number… ugh) made me believe it was real – for a few minutes.

Heck, I’m the type of person who scams scammers! When I get a scammer on the line, I enjoy screwing with them by asking them stupid questions over and over and even asking them to spell words until they get tired and hang up on me.

Moral of this story…

I was embarrassed to include this story in my original cutting the cord article from yesterday but after seeing how popular that article has been, I decided that it was important to share with everyone.

Scammers are smart, be freaking careful out there friends!

29 thoughts on “I almost fell for a DirecTV phone scam! – Julie’s gadget diary”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I’ve received the same voice mail. I have AT&T as my internet provider so assumed it was legit (but I have no interest in a TV service). What’s interesting is they were able to get your real DirectTV account #. I had a similar scam call about a bank account. They called and said my payment was late (for a credit card). I knew I paid it, but they had the exact minimum amount due. That gave me pause, but the person was a little off so I hung up. Somehow these scammers are getting access to real data on our accounts that we would have used to verify them…

  3. I also got the same call from ‘At&T Directv’ about getting 50% off my account. I almost thought it was legit because my husband had been on the phone with Directv the day before asking about canceling our dish service and going to Directv Streaming. I thought it was odd when they left a different number on my voice-mail than the number that had called. It was also odd since the account is in my husband’s name, yet I got the call. Nice try.

  4. O-Qua Tangin Wann

    With the countless scams being sent to people via text message and voicemail, always make it a policy to Google the phone number before calling. Had you googled the number you would have seen that it did not belong to AT&T or DirecTV.
    Assume all texts and emails and calls are scams until proven otherwise by researching the number they want you to call first, or the number they are calling from.

    1. O-Qua, any other time, I would never have even considered that the offer was real, but I’d just been offered the $50 discount from the real DirecTV just 2 days before so my automatically thought it was legit. Of course, after I hung up on the scammer, I googled it and saw it was a known scam.

      1. So did you finally cut the cord with Directv? Cause that’s what I want to do when I find an internet company & get Hulu & live tv.

  5. They lump together spectrum which I have and att and DirecTV. Have known the head of call center sales and training for about 25 years s of when they tell me they are from there. Usually tell them I don’t have it and haven’t since 12. Or you get the ones that say is your bill to high, reply if you’re from there you know it is

  6. I think scammers like this have success with (at least) two types of people — those who are a bit gullible and too trusting, but the second group of folks are those who think we (I include myself in this) are knowledgeable, aware, and a bit too smart to fall for the tactics. I regret to say this is not true; I’d like to think it’s true but it’s not. The scammers gotten a lot more sophisticated and creative; plus, they use automated tools to try again and again and again. Unceasing vigilance and constant verification from other known sources you trust are always, always necessary. It’s tiresome! At any rate, I’m glad you saw the light before any real damage was done.

  7. Hi Julie,

    Some time ago I came across this one (do not click on it). Very clever, Grrrrrrrr

    Hello this is support.rnicrosoft.com please check your settings here.

    I have all Apple stuff, so I didn’t click, but i’v shown it to windows people most did not catch the “ rn “ = m


  8. It is funny that I got the text and had a pretty good idea it was a scam. So I called it. Why? So I could waste there time as much as possible. If you can stop them from talking to anyone for 15 minutes think about it. If 4 or more people did this and then more. They will go broke. Also gave them a fake pin.

    Had them to the point where they called me about the $500 plus in cards to give them the number and code on back…nope.


    1. I agree with wasting their time, but answering their calls or “unsubscribing” from their spam e-mails gives them something far more valuable…a verified real phone number or e-mail, which can be sold to more scammers for more money since it’s a known good number or e-mail…

  9. As an Indian I’m ashamed that India has become a capital of Tele and online scams. Due to record unemployment, rising inflation and taxes, the Millions of IT graduates who cannot realise their western dream resort to working in these shady ‘call centres’ which operate with full impunity and govt support as they have a ‘cut’ of their profits into their coffers. Youtubers like Scambaiter, Jim Brown, and Karl Rock (now banned from India) have exposed these centers but more needs to be done at the international diplomatic level. It’s a shame!

  10. I get that same AT&T call about 4x a week. I’ve been ignoring it. I’m now glad that I have. They may have fooled me too.

    I have DirecTV as well. I’ve had heartburn over their rate hike like you, but I can’t seem to pull the trigger to streaming only. We own the house my daughter lives in for college. We got her and her roommates Spectrum internet and TV package. A year in, the girls claimed that they had never used to the cable box or cable TV. Everything was streaming. So I cancelled the TV package and returned the box. The girls got along fine. When we go up there during the summers when the girls are gone, I run into the same problem you did- My wife and I like the TV on for background noise (usually Food Network) while we’re doing something else. You can’t do that with streaming without a little more effort and forethought. It bugs me just enough that we’ve given up the thought of going streaming only at home.

      1. Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I meant, did the scammers just happen to call you (and leave the voicemail) around the same time you talked to DirecTV? Or did they somehow know you’d recently spoken to DirecTV? Apologies if this was already explained and I missed it. 🙂

  11. A senior fraud investigator at a Credit Union told me that almost 2 million scam calls, texts, and emails are sent every day in America. And that the success rate is something like 1 – 2%.

  12. I actually fell for the scam. A few things made me suspicious, but when they were able to pay off my current bill (which I could immediately see in the MyATT app) and add Epix channels to my system in real time, I was convinced that they were really AT&T. I even asked to add a few channels, which they were happy to oblige at $5/mo. I never had understood why gift cards were a scam–I guess it’s like money laundering–but they claimed the whole thing was a marketing arrangement with eBay. Right after I gave them the gift card numbers I asked how did I know it wasn’t a scam. They then tried to offer a similar deal with T-Mobile. I declined and called AT&T, who confirmed it was a scam, and later told me the bill payment would be reversed, too. I changed my PIN but it still seems to have been reversed a week or so later. It was all pretty sophisticated, with multiple toll-free numbers and text messages. I filed a report with the FTC, but don’t expect much.

  13. I was a victim of PCH WIN. Left vm that I had won so stupid me called the number. After listening to the spill, I hung up and told them this was a scam. Every time I hung up they called me back. They asked me for the name of my bank and again, stupid me, gave it to them. Then a lady called with foreign accent stating she was from my bank and that I had indeed won. Then came call from PCH prize department using the same name as the legitimate person. After many phone calls I received one from Bruce Holden stating he was with the Federal Reserve Bank and the money had been put into an account for me. In order to release the funds I had to pay transfer fee. I became suspicious and called PCH headquarters and explained the situation and he told me he could not give out any information as I was a high profile client. He would have some one call me back. I then received a call from the supposedly Vice President of PCH. All of the phone numbers were legit. They used actual employees names to make it appear legitimate. I reported this to the real PCH and they informed the FTC. This is so unbelievable and the individual being scammed is very vulnerable. During all of this I checked the bank information as well as PCH and Federal Reserve Bank and all appeared to be legitimate. DO NOT TRUST ANYONE. I changed phone numbers and hired a firm to remove all of my information from the dark websites. They are still working to remove my information. Be careful what you put on Facebook, internet and email. They are always watching. Please do not give my information to anyone.

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