Phone Bill Not Paid: Phone Scam Overview
As of 2015 64% of American adults owned a smartphone, and 10% of these Americans did not have any other form of high speed internet access at home outside of their phone's data plan.
To fall behind on a payment and have to face the prospect of having your cell's data, calling, and texting abilities turned off, is a scary thing. Phone scammers using this fear have taken advantage of many victims, convincing them that their payment wasn't received and that their phone will be cut off. The following are the details of this scam and some information on what can be done to beat the scammers at their own game.
Receiving a phone call from a person who claims to be with your cell carrier is something most people wouldn't suspect was a scam. Phone scammers use caller ID spoofing to pose themselves as a so-called representative of your carrier, and will inform you that there is an outstanding balance your phone bill. They will usually go on to tell you that if the balance is not paid, the phone and data will be cut off.
Using these types of scare tactics can be highly effective. Once the scammer informs you that your phone will be cut off if the balance is not paid, they will ask if you are ready to make a payment. Some people will comply with this payment request due to the fear they have of getting their phone disconnected. Giving the scammer your credit card information, agreeing to wire money, or purchasing pre-paid gift cards and giving the caller the information on the cards, could lead to a substantial amount of money being lost.
It is typically very difficult to trace where these calls are coming from, as many times they originate outside of the United States. This in turn makes it impossible for victims of this scam to recover the money that they lost.
Stay Out of Harm's Way
The best way to protect yourself is to stay educated. Know wether or not you fall behind on you phone bill, and know what your phone carriers collection policies are. If you have real doubts that your previous payment to your phone carrier was not received contact their billing department directly. Don't go by what is being told to you by an unknown caller.
By staying on top of this type of information, you will be able to avoid the phone bill collections scam. In some instances, the scammer will attempt to prove your phone can be turned off by pulling a trick on you. It's also important to remember that your phone service provider won't call you making threats and demanding immediate payment.
Report the Scammers
If you feel that you were contacted by a scammer pretending to be your phone carrier and demanding payment you should report it to the FCC, you can file a complaint online or contact them by phone at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322). Also be sure to report it to your phone carrier.
You can also report any calls that you suspect are involved in phone scams in CallerSmart's iPhone app for unknown number look ups. If you don't have an iPhone, you can find callers by phone number and leave your feedback on our website.