Johnnie Howell and her husband have DIRECTV.
He got a text that looked like it was from the company itself. It offered more stations for less money.
So, Howell called the number on the text. She thought she was talking to a DIRECTV representative.
It turns out, it was really a scammer.
He wanted her to pay $375 to lock in the deal. And the scammer wanted that money in a very specific way: an eBay gift card. This was the first red flag.
Howell had a feeling that was odd. But, at the time, didn't trust her instincts. "So, I went to 7-Eleven and I got an eBay card," she said.
She gave the scammer the card information and her DIRECTV account information. And that's important because DIRECTV customers can upgrade their service online. So, the scammer used the Howells' information to add channels, which made it look like he really did work for DIRECTV. "We got the stations. We had all the premium stations," she told Action 9.
Then the scammer told her he needed another $375. This was another red flag.
"I go to Food Lion, and I get two more cards," she said.
Finally, she did get suspicious. "$750 for us is a lot of money to lose."
She called the real DIRECTV and found out the hard truth: It was all a con.
"I was very upset. I was more upset with myself because I knew the signs, I saw the signs, I heard the signs," she told Action 9.
DIRECTV felt bad for the Howells and offered to knock $50 off their bill every month for a year.
It's not clear why the scammer picked the Howells. Maybe he knew they had DIRECTV. More likely, he targets lots of people and that way, is bound to find actual customers eventually.
Companies like DIRECTV allow you to use a password online and even over the phone. You should take the company up on this. The Howells didn't before, but they do now. And, no matter what company you're dealing with, if you have questions about your service, always call the number on your bill, not the one that shows up on your phone.
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