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AG Nessel Takes Action Regarding 'AT&T DirecTV' Scam Calls
February 17, 2022
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has issued subpoenas that will allow the Department to learn more about scammers pretending to offer AT&T DirecTV services, with a goal of putting a stop to the illegal robocalls.
Judge Joyce Draganchuk of the Ingham County Circuit Court recently authorized the Attorney General to issue these subpoenas based upon an Ex Parte Petition. The Petition explains that preliminary information received by the Department's Corporate Oversight Division estimated that more than half a million calls related to the spoofing campaign are coming into Michigan each month.
The Petition also alleges there is probable cause to believe that thinQ Technologies, Inc. was an originating Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that brought the calls onto the country's telephone network during certain time periods. ThinQ is headquartered in North Carolina. The identity of other originating or point of entry service providers for the calls is under investigation.
"VoIP services convert your voice into a digital signal that travels over the Internet. VoIP service providers route outgoing and incoming calls, converting the digital signal to a regular telephone signal before it reaches the destination. These services are a cheap way for robocallers to make millions of scam calls from anywhere in the world, in a matter of minutes," the petition explains. "The purposes of this investigation are to ascertain the Unknown Caller Respondent's true identity and location; the identities of Unknown VoIP Provider Respondents causing the illegal robocalls to be made; and to obtain documents and records relevant to Respondent thinQ's business practices in relation to the fake 'AT&T DirecTV' calls."
"We are doing everything we can to track down and stop the persons or entities responsible for causing Michiganders to endure these illegal robocalls," Nessel said. "If you receive a call offering you a massive discount on DirecTV services, consider the possibility it's a scam. Current DirecTV customers should rely on phone numbers listed in your service correspondence or customer service information available on the website if you need to get in touch with the service provider."
The robocalls offer recipients a 50% discount on the purchase of DirecTV subscription services. The calls are designed to seem legitimate as they include a hold message purportedly from AT&T-but it is not. If the scam is successful and the consumer asks to initiate service, the scammer says an upfront cost needs to be paid by a pre-paid card in order to start the service.
That approach is an example of a gift card scam, which AG Nessel details in her Don't Fall Victim to Gift Card Scams Consumer Alert. Once money is loaded onto a gift card and the numbers are provided to the requestor, these transactions cannot be reversed, making them a favorable avenue for bad actors who don't want their scams traced.
In December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shared that in the first nine months of 2021, consumers reported losing $148 million in scams where gift cards were used as the form of payment. That amount is more than was reported in all of 2020.
The FTC recommends that if you paid a scammer with a gift card, do the following:
- Report gift card scams to the gift card issuer. When you contact the gift card company, tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Ask them if money is still on the card, and if they can refund your money.
- If you act quickly enough, the company might be able to get your money back but be aware that that some companies will not return any money-even if the gift card hasn't been used.
- Keep the physical gift card and the receipt. Notify the store you purchased the gift card from right away.
The Department provides a library of resources for consumers to review anytime on a variety of topics.
Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General's website, or if you have questions call 877-765-8388.