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AT&T customers duped by criminals

Posted: , by Alan F.


AT&T customers duped by criminals
A published report notes that AT&T customers are being singled out by a group of criminals that pretend to be reps from the carrier and make phone calls attempting to get personal information. The crooks say that they will give an AT&T customer a discount on next month's bill and then ask questions such as name, address and the last four digits of the customer's social security number. This is enough info for the caller to then call the real AT&T and request that the customer's SIM card get changed to a new phone. The victim's phone goes dead and the crooks have a working handset which they use to make expensive international calls using the victim's account.

This is what happened to 35 year old Keith Carter. Carter received a call on August 12th from someone claiming to be an AT&T rep who promised him a discount on next month's bill if he would take the time to answer some questions, asking him to reveal the last four digits of his social security number. He thought nothing of it until his Apple iPhone stopped working the next day. He received a new SIM card from AT&T, but the crooks made calls on his account totaling $2600 to Cuba, Guinea and Gambia. Carter says he plans on disputing the charges and is looking for a new wireless carrier.

A similar story took place last month to sisters Mari and Candace Sawyer. A man claiming to be from AT&T called them on September 3rd at noon and was able to wrangle from them the last four digits of the account holder's social security number. By 10pm, all four phones on their family plan were dead and hundreds of calls to Gambia were on their account.

The sisters got in touch with AT&T and the carrier issued a statement on September 23rd warning consumers about this scam. Meanwhile, Sprint and T-Mobile spokesmen said that their customers have not been victimized by this fraud, while Verizon refused to comment. AT&T say that the criminals are offering the stolen cell service to buyers by advertising online. The mobile operator says, "We’re working to educate our customers on how to protect their information from social engineering."

"Never give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves are clever – they often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords and other identifying information.

If you get a call from a company or government agency seeking personal information, don’t provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you.

Please let the FCC know about ID spoofers by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or filing a complaint at www.fcc.gov/complaints."

source: AT&T via Bloomberg

  • Options

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 02:39 3

1. Smokin (Posts: 120; Member since: 10 Oct 2013)

Actually if people are not dumb enough to give them the social security number, this crime woulf be nothing. I've experienced thing like this and fortunately i didnt.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 02:45 9

2. improv (Posts: 95; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)

I'm not quite sure why getting duped by his ignorance warrants a carrier change...

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 05:25

4. blingblingthing (Posts: 478; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)

Pretty much damage control

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 11:03 1

16. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

I personally think the carrier is partially at fault. I mean you shouldn't be processing SIM changes over the phone anyway. That's an easy preventative. I can't say I would fall for this, but it's not like you are asked for you full SSN. Just the last 4.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 16:50

22. johnbftl (Posts: 240; Member since: 09 Jun 2012)

Call in and listen to AT&T's full customer service recording. It says remember that customer service representatives will never call asking for any personal information. The carrier is in no way at fault.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 17:44

23. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

K. Then why isn't Tmo customers having an issue with this? As I said, SIM's should never be changed over the phone. That's an institutional problem and ATT should reimburse the guy. He never made the changes, ATT did. Therefore they are at fault for not doing more to confirm the person making changes was indeed the owner of the account.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 22:05

24. johnbftl (Posts: 240; Member since: 09 Jun 2012)

That's because AT&T 108 million customers and T-Mobile has 34 million. If someone is going to knock off a company there is better hunting. Work in a call center environment for a carrier then come back and tell me what you can and can't do if someone calls in and is fully verified. There are third party companies that monitor your calls to make sure you're doing certain things according to protocol and if someone verifies, wants to do something to the account and you tell them no, say goodbye to your job.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 10:24

27. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

I never said it was the reps fault. Slow down and reread what I wrote. It's an INSTITUTIONAL problem. Att should have better policies regarding this. Also, VZW has north of 100 million customers, but they are having this issue. You can call in and change CDMA phones too. Not to mention their new LTE phones that are SIM based. So don't tell me that ATT bares no responsibility in this. Regardless, the right thing to do would be to cancel the charges as a one time courtesy for this customer.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 12:15

28. SavageLucy42 (Posts: 211; Member since: 24 Mar 2011)

VZW Doesnt use SIM cards so not sure how the scam would work to steal their service.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 12:38 1

29. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

WTF? So I guess I don't have a SIM in my S4 on VZW right now? LTE does USE a SIM. Also, you can change devices on VZW by calling in with the ESN number of the device you want to change to.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 13:28

30. andynaija (Posts: 537; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)

Yes Verizon doesn't use SIM cards, but to use 4G LTE you need a SIM-type card.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 13:52

31. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

LTE is GSM based.
Therefore, when VZW flips the proverbial switch on VoLTE they will be all SIM based.
3GPP uses SIM.

Also, VZW's LTE phones get their autentication from the the SIM on the CDMA network too. I don't fully understand how, but the "card" in LTE phones is a SIM.


CDMA doesn't use SIM, LTE does. Also, over half of VZW subscriber base is now using LTE, so that means they are using ~ 50 million SIMs.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 03:40 4

3. tigermcm (Posts: 811; Member since: 02 Sep 2009)

ummmmm why would you provide personal info to someone that called you?????

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 05:37 1

5. jeff_1 (Posts: 105; Member since: 30 Aug 2013)

this is just stupid

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 06:02 4

6. promise7 (Posts: 529; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)

It's stupid if the caller *asks* for the last four digits of the SSN, but if they phrase it like, "For verification purposes can you please provide the last 4 digits of your SSN." Then the victim will give it to them, because I'm sure anyone who's called their phone company knows, they always ask for that, but your the one calling them at their official phone number so it's safe. If someone were to ever call, just say I'll call the official number on the website/bill/etc. and give them my info there. If they sound reluctant to that, then hang up on them.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 06:13

7. chunky1x (Posts: 265; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)

Which is worst, being dumped by criminals or slow torture from AT&T?

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 07:30

8. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 1063; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)

yeah but the criminal would have to pay themselves eventually ?

and Microsoft calls me all the time claiming there's a virus on my computer and asking me to visit a link !

it's not just AT&T is what i'm saying

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 11:04 2

18. tedkord (Posts: 6264; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

Why would they have to pay? ATT has the victims info, not the criminal. The just use the SIM until it gets shut down, throw it away and start over.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 18:27

32. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 1063; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)

if this is anything like aus than that would work for about a month so yeah

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 09:28 6

9. redfoxx82 (Posts: 1; Member since: 13 Oct 2013)

I work for AT&T, and I have to say, Fraud is on the rise! I had to call a customer because their acct was compromised. A person with a heavy accent called in , said that they were the acct holder and wanted to change their SIM card, said that they upgraded.. I reviewed the acct , no upgrade was processed, the cus tried to rush me, which is a dead give away , I placed the fraudster on holdand called the number on the acct. ..the line iI called was not the acct holder, but the acct holders 19 year old son, who explained to me that someone called him to do a survey for a 20.00 credit to their acct, so he gave his Dad's last four ssn. I called the acct holder and explained then put a password on the acct..... Customer service reps now have to go through and play private I , just to assist customers with certain requests, and some customers may directed to a Corporate Store to make certain changes if they do not pass additional verification steps... This frustrates our customers, they say they are going with another carrrier, ...its like you can't win... You make a change on someone's acct , it turns out to be fraud, rack up international charges, cus is mad, but when cus can't pass additional verification and directed to the store, then, they are still upset.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:56

11. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

I can understand additional verification steps if you are changing a sim number. That only seems logical. In fact, I don't really understand why that isn't handled only AT the retail stores. That way you can verify their identity. This shouldn't be able to be done via a phone call IMO. It should have to be done at the time of purchase of the SIM, or in a retail store only. The only time it should be done over the phone is if the carrier shipped you a new SIM for some reason. But then the carrier would have that info to look at. This seems like a fail on ATT's part.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 07:50

26. good2great (Posts: 1042; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

do you know how many ATT customers need SIMs activated daily? it would be crazy to direct them to stores.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:37 1

10. darkkjedii (Posts: 14158; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)

I'm with AT&T, thanx for the heads up PAT.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:57 2

12. Gsmalltheway (Posts: 156; Member since: 15 Aug 2009)

That person in the article that's looking for a new wireless carrier is an idiot. Its not ATT fault that this happened. It was his for giving out his information. ATT will never call you and ask for your info. All the people who are getting scammed its no ones fault but their own.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:58 2

14. PapaSmurf (Posts: 9674; Member since: 14 May 2012)

False. T-Mobile has called me before on my personal line.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 11:00

15. darkkjedii (Posts: 14158; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)

+1 AT&T has called me before, it happened to be a call back from like 4 hrs earlier.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 11:04

17. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

Verizon has called me before too. I agree, ATT carries so responsibility here.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:57

13. PapaSmurf (Posts: 9674; Member since: 14 May 2012)

A working person's fear is getting robbed of their hard, earned money.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 11:35 4

19. PK1983 (Posts: 214; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)

Hey i'm from AT&T and I already have your information, but if you tell it to me again I'll give you $5 off your $150 bill. No I am not from Nigeria, my name is Bill Jones from Chicago.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 11:46

20. 14545 (Posts: 1209; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

VZW, when I was out of contract, called me to offered me 50 free minutes a month, plus a credit for agreeing to a year agreement extension. I declined, but it's not like this is completely unheard of. ATT, as I previously stated, shouldn't be changing SIM's outside of retail stores or VIA att online ordering. Meaning ATT ships it out and activates that sim that was shipped when you receive it. ATT bares just as much responsibility in this as the customer for activating the SIM. I can't really blame the guy for leaving. I mean think about it. why is it happening only on ATT devices.

Also, they could offer you money off your bill for a "survey", but the survey is just BS to get your info. I've had VZW contact me for that too.

posted on 14 Oct 2013, 07:48

25. good2great (Posts: 1042; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

aww man this is sad! lol

how do you prevent this?

If a rep has to call a customer its policy for them to verify their account if its regarding personal account info. but the crazy thing is the customers aren't aware of this.

This is a perfect idea. I agree with the guy above about not processing SIM activations over the phone BUT the stores would be flooded with customers needing this done.

Wow i hope ATT comes up with a way to prevent this.

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