Cable / Satellite TV Upgrade: Phone Scam Overview
With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, cable TV subscriptions have dropped since 2010. However, the vast majority of Americans (around 83% of households) still pay for some form of paid-cable TV.
However, cable companies in the U.S. have been associated with a myriad of different scams, from overcharging customers to refusing to refund nonsensical charges, and making it impossible for consumers to identify the best deal.
The majority of these scams start with a phone call and some shady customer service practices. The most common phone scam occurs when supposed representatives of your cable company call to offer new deals.
Calls About Television Cable Deals
The most common cable satellite TV phone scam premise is a caller offering deals regarding your existing service. Someone posed as a DirecTV, Dish Network, or similar service, representative will contact you and let you know about a deal they are running where you can get a year's worth of service for very cheap.
The caller will usually offer proof that they are with your cable company by offering a free preview. In order to offer this proof, the caller will ask for your current cable account information. Once they have this information, they will call your cable company with your account information and demand an immediate upgrade on the account. Once they do this, you will see that more channels are available and will presume the person calling you is an actual representative.
After the preview has been shown to you, the supposed representative will tell you that you have to pay the entire yearly subscription up front in order to receive the deal.
They will often request that this one-time payment be made via a pre-paid debit card. This is a major red flag. After this the representative will disappear and no upgrade in service will actually occur.
Similar scams occur when a caller will pose as a rival satellite cable company representative and promise to save you several hundred dollars by switching your cable company. In the majority of cases, there will be no actual savings achieved due to hidden fees and penalties.
Keeping Yourself Safe From This Scam
Remember that no cable representative will ever call and demand immediate payment for any sort of upgrade of service with a pre-paid debit card. It's a good rule of thumb to be weary of unsolicited calls offering to save you hundreds of dollars on your cable bill or change your cable provider to save you money.
Reporting This Scam
Report suspicious calls directly to the cable company that called you and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If there are many reports of scams, the FTC investigates fraudulent companies and fines violators.
If you're unsure whether or not a call could be a scam, you can run a reverse phone lookup on an unknown number using CallerSmart's online white and yellow pages directory or caller ID app for iPhone.