Palm Beach County residents are getting calls that seem to be from their own cell number. Received one of these? A reporter and his son did.
A recorded message that purports to be from AT&T says an account has been compromised and asks people to punch in the last four digits of their social security number.
It’s just confusing and disconcerting enough to throw some folks off balance. They may wonder if only a phone company could call them from their own number, so there might be something to it.
Don’t respond. Hang up. It’s a scam to gather information that could be used to plunder accounts or steal your identity.
“These calls are not from AT&T,” said company spokeswoman Kelly Starling. “If any company calls you and asks for your personal information, that is a red flag. One of our tips on our new Cyber Aware website is never give such information to someone who calls you. Call the company at the number found on your bill. You can read more helpful tips for all consumers at www.att.com/cyberaware.”
The call appears to be from your own phone number through a technological trick called “spoofing.” This is how scammers appear to be calling from the IRS or from across town in other ploys. That is why, unfortunately, you can’t take the caller ID at face value 100 percent of the time.
Your own number on the caller ID is a relatively new twist, though reports started popping up in other states in recent months. It’s also a sure sign of trouble. Real phone companies don’t do this.
The first batch of checks went out Thursday in what federal regulators call the biggest settlement ever in a “cramming” case — $88 million in credits and refunds to current and former AT&T customers for mobile phone charges they did not authorize.
The Federal Communications Commission said 2.7 million customers are affected, the most ever in such a case that the agency administered.
The average refund check: $31.
Unsolicited charges were often $9.99 a month, for services such as ringtones, wallpapers and text message subscriptions. The refunds relate to 2014 settlements.
“AT&T received a high volume of complaints related to mobile cramming prior to the FTC and other federal and state agencies stepping in on consumers’ behalf,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “I am pleased that consumers are now being refunded their money and that AT&T has changed its mobile billing practices.”
AT&T said when the settlements were first announced it had “rigorous protections in place to guard consumers against unauthorized billing” but ultimately chose to discontinue this kind of third-party billing. The settlement gave customers who believed they were wrongfully billed the ability to get a refund, the company said at the time.
Here’s what’s next for customers who submitted claims during the settlement process, according to the FTC:
- Nearly 2.5 million AT&T customers will get a credit on their bill within the next 75 days.
- About 300,000 former AT&T customers will receive a check. The first round of checks was mailed Thursday.
Questions about your refund? Officials say you can reach the refund administrator at 1-877-819-9692.