The recent arrest in Florida of two scammers has highlighted a new scam criminals are using to enable them to charge expensive cell phone to your accounts.  According to Clearwater, Florida police, Ah’jhzae Diamondric Artag Berry and Keith Ramsey contacted their intended scam victims by email posing as Verizon, saying that Verizon had identified fraudulent use of their accounts and that Verizon would send them a verification code to verify their identity by a text message that they should provide to the scammers by phone at a telephone number through which the scammers posed as customer service representatives.   In other variations of this scam, the initial contact is made by a phone call from the scammers, who are able to use the technique called “spoofing” to make the call appear to your Caller ID as if it had come from your phone carrier.  The victim actually does receive a verification code from the phone carrier, which was in the Florida cases, Verizon, however the reason that the victims of the scam receive the verification code is because the scammers are already trying to log into their victims’ accounts and the verification code is sent to the real account holder’s cell phone by text message as a part of the authentication process for access to the account. In the Florida cases, once the verification codes were provided to Berry and Ramsey, they were able to complete  access to their victims’ accounts and add their own names to the accounts.  Each then went to a Verizon store and attempted to purchase expensive cell phones.  Fortunately, however, in both instances, store employees recognized what was happening and alerted the police.

TIPS

A key thing to remember in order to avoid this type of scam is that neither Verizon nor any other cell phone carrier will ever ask you by phone for the verification code used to authenticate your access to your account. This is only used for accessing your account on line.  Anyone who asks for your code over the phone is a scammer.  Also, whenever you receive an email, text message or phone call, you can never be sure who actually is contacting you so you should never give provide personal information in response to such an email, text message or phone call unless you have absolutely confirmed that the communication is legitimate.  The best course of action if you think the communication is legitimate is to contact the company directly at a phone number that you know is legitimate to find out the truth.  In the case of Verizon, their real Customer Service number is 800-922-0204.  Additionally, just as you should  monitor your credit card statements regularly, you should also monitor your phone service carrier bill regularly to identify any fraudulent purchases or if anyone has been added to your account.

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