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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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SCAM ALERT: Calls for Cell Phone Upgrades May Not Come From Your Service Provider

SCAM ALERT: Calls for Cell Phone Upgrades May Not Come From Your Service Provider

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is cautioning residents about a scam involving upgraded cell phone service.

This past weekend, a Raceland resident received a phone call from an 888 toll-free number, and the caller claimed to be a representative of a cellular phone service company through which the resident had existing service. The caller had the resident’s account details and told him he was eligible for an upgrade in service. Believing it to be a legitimate call, the resident supplied the caller with part of his social security number as the caller requested. Following the phone call, the resident researched the caller’s number online and realized it was a scam.

“This is the phone equivalent of an internet ‘phishing’ scam,” said Sheriff Webre. “While navigating through websites or email, you may encounter a message or pop-up window that appears to be from a legitimate company asking for sensitive account information. The sole purpose is to steal your identity. This phone scam works the same way.”

The goal of these calls is not always identity theft, though. "Slamming" occurs when a phone company illegally switches your phone service without your permission. In these cases, the victim receives a call from what seems to be their cell phone service provider, but it’s actually a competitor looking to switch you over to one of their packages.

“You may end up with a package that seemed better up front, but ends up costing much more in the end,” said Sheriff Webre. “Regardless, if a company had to intentionally deceive you to obtain your business, it’s probably best to assume they are not trustworthy.”

Sheriff Webre says residents can protect themselves from becoming the next victim by simply following the standard protocol to avoid scams.

“It is best to NEVER give personal information on an incoming call,” said Sheriff Webre. “If you think the call might be legitimate, simply inform the caller that you will contact the company yourself to ensure the call is legitimate. If the caller tries to convince you otherwise, provides you an unverified call-back number, or requires immediate action, it is almost assuredly a scam.”