This morning I got a call from an unknown number claiming to be Telus customer relations. The caller asked me if I had filled out the form I received with my March statement. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. He went on to say that that Telus was changing their long distance phone call provider and needed authorization from me that the switch was ok. He also said that today was the deadline for making the switch so they were calling their customers as a courtesy. Switching to the new service would reduce my phone bill by a few dollars while staying with the old plan would result in my getting two bills from the telephone company; one for my local service and a separate one for my long distance usage.
He wanted me to verify information about my account and told me that the name listed on the account was a corporation name I had used several years ago (red flag #1). I haven’t used that name for several years. Then he said he needed to verify the second number on my account which was my fax number (red flag #2). The telephone company knows what numbers are attached to the account. Then he told me we were going to a two step verification process which required me to give my birth date to the operator (red flag #3). I told him I would never do that. He said I had to give my birth date or else Telus could not process the change. He then asked if I would be willing to give them my mom’s maiden name as the security password (red flag #4). At this point I asked him who he worked for. “Do you actually work for Telus or the long distance provider….or, are you a scammer trying to get my information? He hung up….the tell tale sign of a scam.
I called Telus afterwards and confirmed that they were not switching their long distance providers and that they had not sent out any form with their March bill. I was told that Telus always has their name in the call display so watch for calls from unknown callers.
Slamming and Switching
One type of scam called slamming. Slamming is the illegal practice where the telephone subscriber’s phone is charged without their consent. It is a way of long distance providers hijack your accounts. This is the type of scam I experienced from the unknown caller.
Switching usually happens when an individual enters a contest and the fine print on the entry form authorizes the new provider to switch your telephone long distance services to theirs. Another way the “switch” can happen is if you sign up for a credit card and part of the deal that comes along with the credit card is a switch of long distance provider.
What can I do to check if my number has been slammed or switched?
In Canada and the US you call this number 1-700-555-4141. This will verify your long distance provider but you must call from the telephone your are concerned about. If your service has been switched without your consent, contact your service provider.
Some of the ways you can protect yourself
- Inform your telephone provider that no one can change the services on your account without your written consent.
- Never, and I mean never, disclose any information about yourself to an unknown online caller.
- Check your telephone bill every month for any unfamiliar charges.
- Always read the fine print on any contests you are entering.
- Don’t call back any long distance number you don’t recognize – you can google the number and usually it will reveal the scams associated with the number.
- Don’t answer any questions about your service with unknown telemarketers. Calls from Telus always have the name in the call display.