A Childersburg woman said she received an alarming phone call last week, and she wants to warn others not to fall into the trap.
Cherie Williams’ phone rang last Thursday, and although she usually doesn’t answer when the caller ID reads “Toll-Free Call,” she picked up the phone anyway.
“This man said he was with DirecTV, and he wanted me to pay six months of my bill in advance and said I’d get the next six months free,” Williams said. “It sounds good if you’re just listening to it, but he wanted me to go to Walmart and get a green dot card (a prepaid debit card) with the amount on there, and I was to call him back and tell him the card number, and that’s how he would get the money.”
Williams said she knew almost immediately it was a scam. The most disconcerting thing about the call, she said, was that the caller knew the exact amount of her monthly DirecTV bill.
“How could a scam artist know down to the penny what my bill is every month?” Williams said. “There are going to be people that fall for this, especially since he knew exactly what I pay. That makes it more believable.”
Williams said she does not use the Internet for someone to have accessed her information online. She reported the call to DirecTV.
The phone number that showed on her caller ID was 1-800-639-8861. Williams said the caller sounded like a male with a foreign accent.
Williams said she believes the same person called her with another phone scam three or four months ago, telling her she was the recipient of an $8,000 federal grant.
“He called on a Sunday afternoon saying he was with the federal government, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to begin with,” Williams said.
Williams said she feels scammers prey on senior citizens.
“The sheriff’s office said people can get phone numbers from the phone company and specifically ask for people 60 years and older,” Williams said. “They prey on older people. I know a lot of older people living on the edge financially. They’ve got enough but can’t spend any extra, and six months of free TV would be very tempting for them.”
Childersburg Police Chief Doug Wesson said the city has not received any reports of telephone fraud in recent weeks, but citizens should be wary of any caller who is “trying to get something for nothing.”
“Nothing is free,” Wesson said. “Be aware and don’t give out your personal information over the telephone.”
He said scam phone calls are difficult to follow up on, although law enforcement does the best it can. Regardless, it is important to report such incidents to local law enforcement so they are on record and other citizens can be warned, Wesson said.
“Report it to us, and we will try our best to follow up on it,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, it’s a dead end. By the time you call the number back, they’re disconnected, but we have been able to get a person’s money back before. Either way, it’s nice to have it on record.”
To report a suspected phone scam, contact Childersburg Police Investigations at 256-378-5747 or your local police or sheriff’s office.