Monday, October 26, 2020

Spectrum's number spoofed

| October 15, 2020 1:00 AM

I received an email from a Coeur d’Alene reader who informed me that she had received a phone call from “Rose” at Spectrum. Rose wanted to know if our reader wished to transfer her service. Our reader believed it to be an authentic phone call from Spectrum because the calling phone number 855-707-7328 was the same number that was listed on her bill.

However, the automated dial back number informed our reader that “it” wanted $5 to connect the customer to a live representative. Just so happened I also recently had an issue with my Spectrum service but I was the one who initiated the call to the customer service number at 833-694-9259. I received service from a live representative without being told there would be a charge.

We double checked the phone numbers and the reader verified that the call appeared to be coming from 855-707-7328. Our reader called the number I provided her and was able to speak with a real Spectrum representative, who was able to help her and informed her that Spectrum does not charge for customer service calls.

There were also no charges against her account for the other customer service calls she made. It was all a ruse by a scammer to get the customer to pay money for a service that was never going to happen.

Bottom Line: Be careful when getting unsolicited calls, even from apparently legitimate companies. Scammers are getting better at spoofing phone numbers and their pitches are sounding more plausible.

When in doubt, hang up and check the number or see if there is another number listed on the website. Often if something sounds fishy, it is.

LOTTERY, PAY UP: This is a follow-up to last week’s article about a Florida woman losing out on her $1,000 winnings because her winning ticket never made it to the Florida lottery headquarters office in Tallahassee. Why? Because the post office didn’t deliver.

Once the deadline had passed for the original winner to claim the funds, the money was awarded to an alternate winner. However, since the winner sent the ticket via certified mail and the Tallahassee Post Office did acknowledge that the ticket had arrived at their office, lottery officials have decided that they will bend the rules and pay the original winner her $1,000 prize as long as the postmark on the envelope was by the original deadline.

Lottery officials said this was an unusual case and they aren’t aware of another owner who has experienced a similar situation. Since many lottery offices are closed due to COVID-19, the most viable option winners have for claiming their prize over a certain amount (if they are located far away from the headquarters office) is to mail in their ticket. At least, if you send the ticket via certified mail there is a tracking number and proof that the ticket was sent.

CELLPHONE BOX SUGGESTION: If you lose your cellphone or wish to switch cellphone providers, you'll need your International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. The IMEI is a 15-digit unique identifier much like a VIN number for your car. You'll need the IMEI number to make changes to your phone or to replace it.

The easiest way to locate your IMEI number, depending on if you have an Android device or an iPhone, is to check the settings on your phone. For an Android, go to Settings > About phone > Status and scroll down until you see the IMEI number. On some Androids, it might be under Settings > General > About device > Status.

For an iPhone, go to Settings > General > About, then scroll down until you see the IMEI.

Your IMEI number can also be found on your SI card holder. If you pull out your SIM card tray and turn it over, you'll see the 15-digit number there on most iPhone models and some Android phones.

Also, in case you lose your phone, if you happened to save the box your phone came in, the IMEI number is on the label on the outside of the box, making this a good reason to save the box. It could be important to record the IMEI number and keep it somewhere safe in case you ever lose your phone, need the IMEI number to replace it or switch cellphone providers.

Remember: I’m on your side.

If you've encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.