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Cable TV Scam Hits Home

March 19, 2015

WTNH Reporter – Right from the start, it sounded dicey.  But when a young man called the WTNH reporter, saying he was from Comcast the other day, offering a new package that would take $100 a month off my cable bill, I figured I’d listen.  Cable providers do offer premiums from time to time; like most people I think the amount I pay for phone-internet-television is exorbitant.  So I told him to go ahead and make his pitch.

And a sweet pitch it was.  We would keep all our services and channels, despite the drastic drop in price.  Making him slightly more credible was how he knew the amount I typically pay for my monthly bill.  How would he know that if he wasn’t really from Comcast, right?  Tell me more!  What’s the catch?

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Well, the “catch” was that I needed to pay the reduced bill up front for the first six-months…$480, or so.  Nice piece of change, but if somebody has the money available, why not go ahead and pay if it means locking in those big savings?

By now the phrase “too good to be true” moved right to the front of my brain.  But I wanted to see how it would play out, see when and how they would try and set the hook. They were good, I’ll give them that.  The guy next asked me if he could put me on hold for a moment, while his supervisor came on the line to close the deal (if you’ve ever seen the slightly underrated 2000 movie “Boiler Room” about pump and dump stock scams during the dot-com boom, you’ll recall that’s how they would work it: the “rookie” caller, when he gets a fish on the line, turns it over to a more experienced scammer to reel the mark in). Sure enough, after a minute, a slightly older and more managerial-sounding man got on the line (both had South Asian accents. I’m not sure if that’s relevant to anything, except purposes of alerting you if you get such a call).

It didn’t take long after that.  All he would need to complete the sign up, he said, was get my full name and my full nine-digit social security number.

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Bada-bing!  I just laughed, and hung up, glad at least that I’d wasted some of their time as they went about their nefarious con job.  But I’m sure they didn’t bat an eye and just moved on to the next call.  Which may well have been to an elderly widow, who hears that it’s Comcast, a vital service provider, and hears she can save a bunch of money, and so gives them the info they need to steal her identity AND get that quick $480 up front.

I called Comcast, just to confirm no such offer exists.  It doesn’t.  Please be careful, and follow the usual rules, chief among them: never give out your name and social security number.  While you’re at it, talk to your grandparents or parents or older neighbors about the threat, and tell them to just hang up if anybody they don’t know calls with a too-good-to-be-true offer.  These criminals prey especially on older people, and in my view, there’s a special place in hell reserved just for them for doing so.

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