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Gift cards are for gifts. If anyone asks you to pay with a gift card, it's a scam. ReportFraud.ftc.gov

Did Spectrum or another provider call with an offer to lower your monthly TV, cable, or internet bill in exchange for a pre-payment or fee? It wasn’t them. It was a scammer, and you’re not alone. This year, the FTC has gotten thousands of reports — including many from older adults — about scammers pretending to be Spectrum to try to trick people out of their money or personal information.

Here’s how the scam often works: You get a phone call, recorded message, or text with an offer to lower your monthly payments. The caller — or the person who picks up when you call the number they give you — says you need to “prepay” part of your bill to qualify. They tell you to pay using gift cards because they’re partnering with a company for a promotion, and to call them back with the gift card number. Once you do, they collect that and other personal information over the phone. 

If you get a call like this, here are a few things to know:

  • Never give out your personal, account, or payment information to someone who contacts you out of the blue and demands it. Hang up. It’s a scam.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can fake caller ID so it shows a company’s name or phone number. And never call back a number from a recorded message or listed in an unexpected email or text.
  • Don’t pay for anything with a gift card. Gift cards are for gifts. If anyone tells you to pay with a gift card, or to buy gift cards for anything other than a gift, it’s a scam. You’ll lose your money, and you won’t be able to get it back.

For more information on these types of scams, visit ftc.gov/imposters. And if you spot this, or any scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Thanks to the Center for Elder Law and Justice for sharing reports about this scam through the FTC’s Community Advocate Center (CAC). This program helps groups that provide free or low-cost legal services with reporting fraud and other bad practices on behalf of their clients. For more information about the Community Advocate Center, visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov/community.

15 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Bruce
October 20, 2022

I have hung up on "Spectrum" numerous times.

Cecilia M Baca
October 20, 2022

I never received a call, text, email or other form of communication from the so called organization you are referring to. I have, however, received a call and a emergency alert from "Teamviewer" pretending to be a organization helping to protect google.
So, notify all people who use the internet for their use to be cautious of "Teamviewer".

Cheri Moore
October 20, 2022

I was scammed out of $5,500.00 by someone saying they were from Comcast/ Xfinity, so be careful of them too.

Youdon't need it!
October 20, 2022

Keep this kind of information coming!

Sharon Wright
October 20, 2022

I just wanted to thank you for this information.

Mary
October 20, 2022

These scammers have been calling my home for the last 4 or 5 years 10 to 15 times a day spoofing different phone numbers mostly disconnected AT&T telephone numbers pretending to be from either AT&T or Spectrum. Why is the FTC just getting around to letting people know instead of making AT&T block these calls completely?

Shirley Hall
October 27, 2022

In reply to by Mary

I have received scammers telling me that I have won a computer, or a tablet,and the latest IPhone that is out. They always say that you have to pay postage when you call to confirm that you are you. Do not believe this. The postal service receives postage at the window, or as due postage at your door. Don't pay with your card.

Patricia Williams
October 20, 2022

Thanks for this valuable information

Dennis Johnston
October 21, 2022

I get several calls a day about this article from different names, but always an 832 number!

Ahnahnimous
October 21, 2022

Love the phrase, "Gift cards are for gifts." Hilarious. Almost but not quite snarky.

JS
October 21, 2022

I have received calls from AT&T or DIRECTV, well actually not them but the guy tried to sell me on a discount for AT&T but the thing was he wanted me to prepay. I have never prepaid for any of these services and you never prepay so I knew it was a scam and when I confronted the guy he called me a curse word and then hung up. So just be careful.

Sheryl
October 21, 2022

Just got called by someone pretending to be with cox cable wanting to know who the acccount holder was-hung up on them

Steve Norris
October 24, 2022

It would be nice if the FTC and the FCC would really do something about these scammers. I sent you detailed information about this very scam in early 2021, and obviously you have done nothing to put a stop to it as the calls continue as recently as about 3 hours ago (10/21/2022 @ 8PM). I've offered to help you, but no contact. Sickening that I pay huge tax dollars which go, in part, to support the existance of the FTC, but you are doing little or anything about this.

Robert Urbas
October 27, 2022

Yes indeed, recently I have been getting all manner of scam offerings. One, for instance, was for an update on my internet account information. The most obvious clue as to what is a scam is the request for one's social security number and, in one case at least, a credit card account number.
Oh, and then there was the request for my social security number to update my Norton software utility account. The logo, etc. looked very much like something from Norton.
The stuff is designed to look really compelling, but the things that the scammers can't hide is the request for items like social security numbers and credit card numbers.
The scammer's presentations are so compelling that at times it takes me a moment to realize that I'm looking at what it obviously a scam. Sorry to say that there are no doubt a certain number of people who are taken in by this low life activity.

Thank you so much for all your work.

Dave
November 22, 2022

I never answer my phone unless the call shows as someone from my contact list. If they leave a spam/scam message, or leave no message at all, I just mark their number as SPAM. I don't have to worry about getting scammed, it makes life so much simpler.