Protect Yourself from Holiday Season Scams and Report Suspicious Activity

Protect Yourself from Holiday Season Scams and Report Suspicious Activity

There’s nothing like the holidays to send us scrambling for great deals. You know who also knows that? Scammers. Here are three common scams and what you can do to help be better protected against scammers.

Prepaid Card Scams

This type of scam occurs when somebody calls and pretends to represent a company you might normally do business with – including DIRECTV. The fraudulent caller will often contact you offering free or significantly discounted services or claim that your equipment is out of date and needs to be replaced.

Here’s the Catch: They ask you to use a prepaid credit card or retail gift card to pre-pay for the promised service. The scammer might even offer you a toll-free call-back number for you to conveniently make the payment to sound that much more convincing. The scammer may even drop in a bit of personal information they’ve already stolen through some advance phishing (see below) including your address or perhaps an account number. Add it all up, and they make it sound too good not to be true. But beware.

When it comes to DIRECTV, know this, because it’s ALWAYS going to be true:

  • DIRECTV will never ask you to pay upfront to receive discounted services or activate some exclusive promotion or replace your current equipment.
  • DIRECTV does not accept any third-party gift cards from retailers like eBay, Amazon or anyone else as a legitimate form of payment.

If you think you’re the target of a prepaid card scam:

  • Hang up on any suspicious caller immediately. Do not engage any further. Offering up any personal information, no matter how innocent, can ultimately cost you.
  • Contact us directly to ensure you are speaking with an official DIRECTV representative about your service or current promotional offers.
  • Report Prepaid card scam phone calls or text messages targeting DIRECTV customers to help make others aware.

Go Phish – Social Engineering Scams

Social engineering is a term for scammers who try to trick you into providing your confidential personal information or taking some other roundabout action that leads to the same unfortunate result. This is often called “phishing” because the perpetrator throws a line out into the water, hoping you will come up to it. They may attempt to contact you by phone, email, text or a direct message in any of your social media accounts.

How it Works: Someone contacts you pretending to represent a legitimate company you might normally do business with – like DIRECTV. They may ask for personal info like your Social Security number, account password, PIN, or credit card number to “verify your account.”

When it comes to DIRECTV, know this, because it’s ALWAYS going to be true:

  • DIRECTV will never reach out to you and ask for this sort of personal information to “verify your account.” We already have that information in our possession.
  • DIRECTV will, however, ask you to supply that information when you contact us. And that’s to ensure you are precisely who you claim to be. We want protect your personal information and your identity.

If you suspect you’re the target of a phishing or social engineering scam:

  • Never offer your account number or PIN or any other personal information
  • Hang up and call back whatever legitimate company (like DIRECTV) or agency that supposedly contacted you. Their phone number is likely to be on your account statement or official website. Ask if they contacted you for personal information.
  • Assuming they didn’t, file a complaint at
  • Contact us to review options to secure your DIRECTV account and avoid any unauthorized access.

Holiday Online Order Scam

This time of year, you’ll often be rushing from one place to another or find yourself easily distracted. Beware, because that can make for easy picking for scammers posing as retailers with questions or concerns about some online order you supposedly made.

Here’s How this Scam Works: Someone will call, text or email you claiming to be from a well-known retailer to tell you there’s a (false) problem with an online order that you need to address right away. These “problems” can take many different forms:

  • There’s a difficulty fulfilling your made-up order, or it’s been canceled altogether
  • Your payment failed
  • Delivery is going to be delayed
  • This well-meaning merchant has detected a fraudulent purchase made on your account and requires more information to cancel the transaction

This first phase of this scam is all about scaring you or putting you off your usual emotional balance. After all, making you feel as if you’re not going to get what you wanted or that your gifts aren’t going to arrive on time is a terrific way to get you upset.

Once they have you in that mindset, the real objective begins – asking for personal information like your username, account number, address, credit card numbers… all to “help” solve this imaginary issue. And when this scam takes the form of an email or text message, it will usually link back to a false site where they can capture all this data.

If you sense you’re in the middle of a Holiday Online Order scam:

  • First ask yourself if this retailer or online transaction sounds at all familiar. If not, hang up immediately or delete the email or text.
  • Yet, if the order does sound somehow familiar, stop and give yourself time to think. Don’t over-react and blurt out any information to an unknown caller without calming and focusing yourself. Never call back a number they’ve offered or go to a website link they imbedded into a text or email.
  • If you’re concerned about a legitimate online order, contact the legitimate customer support channels of the retailer in question using the phone number on your bill or their official website.

Additional Ways to Help Others by Sharing Your Would-Be Scam

Hopefully, the scammers couldn’t get you, but it’s always nice to share the gift of your experience with others. Here are just a few ways you can report suspicious activity to someone who can help do something about it.

  • Report any email fraud to the FTC.
  • Then be sure to forward the same email to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at
  • If you receive a suspicious text and you’re an AT&T wireless customer, forward it to 7726 (SPAM). Messages forwarded to 7726 are free for AT&T customers and won’t count toward your texting limits. Other wireless providers often have similar services.
  • Phone fraud can often lead to Caller ID spoofing. Called ID spoofing is a way that scammers can steal your virtual identity by way of “impersonating” your smartphone. So stay informed and know your rights by visiting the FCC Consumer Help Center.

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