AT&T Names Top Communications Scams and Offers Prevention Tips to Protect Consumers

Dallas, Texas, August 6, 2009

newsrelease


In the face of the current economic slump, consumers are more concerned about being duped by scams. Scammers are still relying on old phone and Internet tricks — and even applying old scams to new technologies. While consumers are paying closer attention to their bills and tightening the grip on their pocketbooks, they can also protect themselves against fraud by knowing what to watch for and avoid.

AT&T* is educating consumers by sharing information about the most common communication scams and threats, along with tips to keep them from falling victim to fraud.

“Especially during these tough times, consumers need to be aware of common scams and other fraudulent efforts as they become more and more sophisticated,” said Rob Forster, senior technical director for AT&T Security. “We want to empower and educate our customers to fight back and to give them the right resources to stay safe.”

According to the 2008 Internet Crime Report, instances involving Internet crime and fraud are on the rise. In fact, the total dollar loss from all referred cases of fraud was $264.6 million in 2008 — up from $239.1 million in 2007.

To protect themselves, consumers should be aware of the following top scams:

Phishing:

Also known as “spoofing,” phishing is a common trick Internet scammers use to "fish" for consumers’ financial information and password data using fake company e-mails and Web sites. The scammers send e-mails that appear to be from well-known companies but contain links to fraudulent Web pages disguised to look nearly identical to legitimate companies' sites. The sites ask consumers to enter current financial and personal information such as user IDs, Social Security numbers, bank or credit card account numbers and ATM passwords.

AT&T advises consumers and businesses to use caution if they receive any e-mail requesting personal and/or credit card account information. AT&T never sends e-mail requests to our customers asking for personal account or credit card information. Consumers can also make sure that a Web site is secure by checking to see whether there is an "s" after the “http” in the address and a lock icon at the bottom of the screen. Both are indicators that the site is secure.

SMiShing:

Phishing scammers have even taken the leap from wired services to wireless, with the cell phone equivalent dubbed “SMiShing.” This new form of identity theft also attempts to compromise consumers' financial information and password data by directing them to a counterfeit Web site or to a toll free number. Consumers receive text messages (also known as SMS messages) that direct them to the counterfeit Web site trying to get their personal information.

AT&T advises texters to avoid clicking on links in an unsolicited text message. Just like phishing, consumers can make sure that a Web site is secure by checking to see if there is an “s” after the “http” in the address and a lock icon at the bottom of the screen.

Cramming:

Cramming occurs when unauthorized charges appear on consumers’ wireless or home phone bills. To avoid being a victim of cramming, consumers should pay close attention to their bills. When consumers believe they are victims of cramming, they should call the service provider associated with the charge and dispute the charge. It is necessary for the consumer to contact the actual service provider to conclusively resolve the issue and to avoid possible collection actions by the service provider imposing the charge. On AT&T bills, the associated service provider’s phone number is printed on the same page as the charge. AT&T works with customers who call us about their bill to satisfy concerns they may have, including adjusting any disputed charges from their bill.

To avoid being a victim of cramming, consumers should pay close attention to their bills. If unauthorized charges appear, customers should first call the vendor to have the charges removed from their bill. AT&T customers should contact us if they are unable to resolve any issues with the vendor directly.

Slamming:

Much like cramming, “slamming" involves changes to customers’ phone service without their knowledge, in this case by switching their communications providers. Scammers will call and misrepresent themselves to customers and ask questions about their account information.

When a caller offers to switch your phone service to a new provider or requests sensitive information, ask questions. Always verify the identity of the company, what it offers and at what price, and get contact information for the service representative. AT&T customers can report slamming to customer service representatives who will assist in switching them back to their preferred service.

809 Area Code:

The 809 area code is a legitimate area code for the Dominican Republic. However, in this scam, consumers usually receive a message telling them to call a phone number with an 809, 284 or 876 area code in order to collect a prize or find out information about a sick relative. The caller assumes the number is a typical three-digit U.S. area code, but the caller is actually connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and charged international call rates. Unfortunately, consumers don't find out that they have been charged higher international call rates until they receive their bill.

AT&T advises customers to return calls to familiar numbers only. They may call directory assistance or long distance operator to check the area code location.

E-mail Viruses and Worms:

The recent Conficker worm is just the latest example. Viruses and worms are computer programs that may arrive in an e-mail attachment and can be destructive to computers. Viruses can hide in a computer's program or system files, and often look like something they are not, such as a picture, screen saver or even a Web link. Worms are software components capable of infecting a computer and then using that computer to infect another computer, spreading rapidly without assistance.

AT&T offers e-mail protection that customers can configure so that it detects viruses and worms before the e-mail is delivered to the computer, and also offers downloadable PC protection for AT&T High Speed Internet customers. Customers can also make sure they are safeguarded against e-mail viruses by making sure their software is always up-to-date.

AT&T offers more information about how consumers can protect themselves from communications scams at www.att.com/safety.

The Internet Crime Report, 2008, published by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s fastest 3G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet and voice services. AT&T offers the best wireless coverage worldwide, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verseSM and AT&T | DIRECTVSM brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T’s Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations are known for their leadership in directory publishing and advertising sales. In 2009, AT&T again ranked No. 1 in the telecommunications industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com.

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