HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Jessica Bearden is like so many other people who rely on her cell phone to stay in touch with family and friends, and until recently she had no problems.
She said she received an automated phone call from a 1-800 number telling her there had been a credit to her account. The automated message said to log on to Verizon.com for further details.
So she said she logged on and followed the directions. Later that evening, she ran into problems. When her husband tried to make a call, his phone was disconnected and so was hers. Jessica said they immediately got Verizon on the line and soon discovered they'd been scammed.
Someone had hacked into their Verizon account, disconnected both lines, and tried to reconnect the same type of iPhone in Canada to make international calls.
Not only that, but they also gained access to the couple's banking account information on file with the account. They paid their bill which caused insufficient funds to occur because it was an account the couple never used.
Two hours later, after phone calls between Verizon and the fraud department, changing their passwords and account information, Jessica said they were able to secure their Verizon account once again.
But two days later, her phone was disconnected again because of the returned check from the people who committed the fraud who tried paying on the old account. And to add insult to injury, there were all sorts of reactivation fees and returned check fees added to their account. Jessica said Verizon has agreed to remove them from the account, and although Jessica said her situation was resolved to her satisfaction, she contacted me because she wants other Verizon customers to be on alert so they won't fall victim like she did.
So I contacted Verizon's corporate customer service department. A Verizon rep told me how other customers can make sure they don't fall victim to the same sort of scam.
The company said it strongly encourages customers to refrain from responding to any e-mails, phone calls or text messages that are not confirmed to have come from Verizon Wireless directly. And if they do, they should report the incident immediately.
The company warns urgent appeals are a red flag. Cyber criminals will often try to trick the email recipient with authoritative, urgent subject lines or threats of penalty if personal or financial information isn't entered immediately
They also said customers should be mindful that the best way to access their account is via their internet browser - never log in from an email.
Jessica said she is just happy we can get the word out to other viewers.