PORTLAND -- A scam affecting Comcast customers fools people into thinking they have a a past-due bill and will be arrested if they don't pay it off immediately.
It happened to Barry Ball, a Portland man who was up to date on his cable bill. And it’s happened to countless others, who’s bills were not past due, either. The scammers are trying to get people's personal information so they can steal money and identities.
It is a known fact, if you don’t pay your bills, your services could be shut-off. But threatened with an arrest?
“I got one from Xfinity that said we owed $25 or they were going to send the police after us if we didn’t pay it,” said Comcast customer Barry Ball.
Experts warn that if it sounds extreme, it is. That is not how Comcast does business.
Now the Department of Justice has weighed in, too. “The tip-off of the common phishing scam is that at some point they’re going to ask you for your password and for your bank account information number and/or instant cash,” explained Jeff Manning of the DOJ.
Ball and thousands of others have received emails requesting their personal information. The email contains a link to clear up the account balance issue which requests personal information that could destroy a person's credit or your identity. And the problem is, it looks official. “You know, that’s fairly convincing-looking," said Manning.
“We live in an environment of corporate bullying anyway and to be stalked like this, I thought, boy, there’s a lot of people out there that are vulnerable,” Ball added.
Comcast sent KGW a statement confirming that the email was not valid, was not sent by them and has already been blocked by them. Comcast said they never ask for customer passwords or billing information via email and users should be suspicious of any email that requests personal account information.
The problem is, people fall for it. “If it didn’t pay,” Manning said, “it wouldn’t continue.”
According to manning, Department of Justice Investigators have actively tried to stop it. “They’ve tried to trace the ISP addresses and a lot of them are overseas and a lot of them are in the Dominican Republic.” And that can be out of their reach, so experts said if you get a threatening email or bill claiming you’re delinquent, call the company on the phone before you respond to anything.
A hassle, Ball said, but worth it. “We’ll have to make these phone calls, you know, do we really owe this? Do we? Do we?”
Ball said although he didn’t fall for it, he’s afraid others will and hopes companies can include a warning letter when they send out their monthly bills.