An Arlington woman said she was the latest victim of a scheme that targets cable and satellite TV customers.
Tanisha Bell is just about ready for the new school year but the expenses are adding up.
"I teach at a low income school and there's so many different things that's needed for the classroom," she said.
But in the midst of her back to school shopping, Bell found a great way to save.
"My phone rung and it said DirecTV."
The caller knew a lot about Bell: her name, address and the fact that she was a DirecTV customer. The caller said she could reduce her bill to $60 per month if she paid for six months up front with an Amazon gift card.
"He even told me that there would be a $100 VISA card rebate, which I know AT&T has done before," she explained.
Bell went to Walgreens and put $338 on the card, but she became more skeptical when she returned home. She called them back and asked to speak to a supervisor before giving them the gift card number. She said they transferred her to two managers, who confirmed it was all legitimate.
"They even gave me confirmation numbers," she said.
So she read off the numbers and was offered another promotion to save on her AT&T cell phone bill. All she'd have to do was buy another gift card for $300.
"I was ready to go and get the gift card and something told me, Tanisha, check this out," she said.
Bell did an internet search for the words "DirecTV Amazon Gift Card" and was at a loss for words. She found several articles and complaints from consumers with the same story.
"It's happening in San Antonio, in Florida, in New York," she said. "I just started crying."
The number that called Bell even appears on DirecTV's website.
An AT&T official told us "if a customer feels a call or email is not legitimate, we encourage them to call the number on their bill. We monitor our network for potential fraud activity and provide information about fraud scams on our website. Customers should be skeptical about any promotion from any company where a third party money card is required."
Luckily for Bell, Amazon was able to put a block on the card before anyone could use it. She'll be using that gift card to buy the rest of her school supplies online.
If you ever get a call like this, here are Samantha Chatman's solutions:
• You should never pay anyone over the phone in gift cards. Legitimate companies will never ask for that. It's a huge red flag.
• Also keep in mind that crooks are using a method called spoofing to falsify what appears on your Caller ID.
• When in doubt, go by the number that's on your bill.