Scheduled Payment Scam: How It Works
An alarming email scam has been making its way into countless inboxes worldwide, regardless of geographic location. This fraudulent scheme purports to originate from your cellular network service provider, whether AT&T, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Rogers, Verizon, Telus, Orange, etc.
Beware, as this scam isn’t limited to just email; it has also surfaced in the form of text messages.
You can see a screenshot below of a fake AT&T text message that I recently received:
The perpetrators behind this scheme employ the names of several prominent telecom companies. Depending on the region, it could be any of the major brands listed above or even smaller ones. Names such as Sprint, Bharti Airtel, or Telenor have also been targeted.
The criminals make it difficult to discern the authenticity of the communication. Consequently, many recipients might initially mistake these messages for genuine notifications. The trouble ensues when actual clients of these companies open the email and are confronted with an unexpectedly high payment amount. So, how does this scam work?
The Withdrawal Scare
For a more in-depth understanding of the Scheduled Payment Scam, watch the video below, substituting Rogers with the name of your own cellular network provider:
In this deceptive message, the scammer informs recipients that their monthly payment is scheduled for imminent withdrawal from their bank account. In the images above, the fake Verizon email mentions a $1,692 amount, while the AT&T only brings up $450.
The content is meticulously designed to mimic authenticity, even incorporating actual advertisements from the company’s website for added credibility. The email scams look generally more realistic, while the fake text messages are easier to spot. For example, in the screenshot I showed you above, the scammer asks the potential victims to visit a website comm-3876.net, not AT&T’s official website. The purpose, though, is the same. Which one is that?
Upon clicking the embedded links, victims are directed to a seemingly legitimate webpage indistinguishable from the official company site. They are prompted to enter sensitive information such as credit card details and passwords.
Scheduled Payment Scam: How to Avoid
One key telltale sign of a scam email is the absence of personalization. Authentic communications from your network provider typically address you by name, not with a generic “Dear Customer.” If you encounter such an impersonal message, it’s advisable to delete it promptly to protect your financial information.
Note that scammers don’t limit their impersonation tactics to telecom providers; they may also exploit the names of other organizations that regularly bill their customers, such as water and energy utilities.
How To Report The Scheduled Payment Scam
Warn your family and friends about the Scheduled Payment Scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be amongst the first to receive alerts about the most prevalent scams every week, subscribe to our Scam Detector newsletter. You will receive periodic notifications from us with insightful tips. That will include how to prevent fraud and information about the newest tools you can use to fight crime.
Meanwhile, feel free to educate yourself with some other fraud-related articles. They are listed under this paragraph, so that you know more about online security. Last but not least, if you have any bad experiences, make sure to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.
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