Jack Simpson: Beware the telephone scammers



He had a foreign accent and said his name was Akshay, a supervisor in the technical department of a satellite company we were doing business with for our television programming. He had some bad news for us. Our receiver equipment had to be upgraded or we would lose our television programming.

We wondered why our company had not notified us by mail or our email account, and why they chose for someone speaking with such a heavy foreign accent to explain our problem to us. We also questioned a business call of this nature in the evening on a weekend! Explaining that we could not understand the caller and wished to speak to someone else who spoke better English, we got no positive response.

This Akshay was going to ship us some new updated equipment to replace the now obsolete receiver and, according to "company policy," he had to have a credit or debit card number before shipping as a deposit on this new updated equipment. He went on to say that when the shipment arrived, he would send an installer to replace our old receiver. We explained to Akshay that we did not give credit or debit card numbers over the telephone, and we had our own company installer we used for all business with the satellite company. Akshay told us that our satellite company installer was not available to do the work, and that is why he would send someone else to do the job for us.

We refused to agree to Akshay's instructions. Unable to contact our local company satellite employees at the time, we took it upon ourselves to make direct contact with the company we were using to provide our television programming.

Our satellite company technical department customer service representatives advised our account with them was in good order and needed no upgrading. No changes were intended in the near future and the manner in which the callers were communicating with us were not the proper business practices of our satellite company.

The callers ignored our request to remove us from their calling list and continued trying to complete their scam. Recently, "Sam" called from New Jersey (still with a heavy foreign accent), informing us he was sending an installer out to replace our outdated equipment. Again we made a direct call to our company technical department and were told not to deal with these scammers. They were not legitimate company employees.

Try as we may, we cannot discourage these foreign callers who seem determined to scam us. Since our first call earlier this year, we have learned individuals with foreign accents have called many consumers posing as technical men from major satellite companies. They offer upgrades on equipment and seek credit, debit or pre-paid cards. They offer to send their own installers to change service and may present customers with a new contract for signing. These contracts may have cancellation fees and they are binding.

Victims recommend you not let these installers into your home, do not sign contracts and do not give personal information over the telephone. If paid in advance, some scammers have posed as customers and actually have ordered new television programming which the customers are liable for.

If you suspect you are a target or victim of a scammer, contact your satellite provider and notify the proper authorities. Beware!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.