A phone call from what he thought was a satellite TV provider ended up costing a North Texas man hundreds of dollars.
William Keeling builds tiny houses – the new craze in smaller, simpler mobile living. Now he has moved in one of the homes he builds.
"It is a simple way to live, tear down just the stuff you need, don't spend a lot of money buying things you don't need," Keeling said.
Satellite TV will be one of those new needs. That's why Keeling listened intently when he got a phone call about satellite TV.
"(The caller) basically said they got all the channels, and all my current equipment for $69 per month for two years," Keeling said.
The caller said the deal was in partnership with Amazon. He had to get an Amazon gift card and pay for six months of service upfront. After that, the $69 per month promotion would kick in.
"I wasn't real sure about it, so I called my wife and we talked, and I called the number back," Keeling said.
Keeling says the number listed said "DirecTV" on his caller ID and he was pretty convinced it was legitimate.
"Then when I called back to verify, the guy said, 'Yes, we can see in your system.' They had all my information, and they were talking about the packages and talking about my current package where I didn't have everything," Keeling said.
So he bought the gift cards and signed up. He was told he would get all the channels in 48 to 72 hours. But that never happened, so he called back.
"The phone number wasn't being answered any more. Then I called the actual DirecTV that time, and found out it really was a scam," Keeling said.
Despite the message on his caller ID and the person on the other end of the line somehow convincing Keeling they had all his information, the caller was not with DirecTV.
DirecTV said they had no part in all this.
Keeling's credit card company refunded him the money. He's left with a bruised ego and a lesson learned.
"These companies always have promotions going on, so you never know. It sounded like a legitimate promotion," Keeling said.
There are some rules of thumb you should know:
- Don't ever pay for any service with a gift card, MoneyGram, or a prepaid card. Cash and credit cards are the only way to protect yourself.
- Also, if anyone calls you selling anything, hang up and call them back, but don't redial the number. Look up the company and number yourself.
- And DirecTV asked us to suggest you put a passcode on your account. Maybe even give the wrong one at first to make sure the agent is real.