You know the old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is? Well, that is the case with a new scam that is targeting DIRECTV customers in the Duluth area. It also involves Target Stores. Scams like this tend to hit the whole country at different times so now is the time for people in the Northland to keep their guard up.

I'm a DIRECTV customer and I often get discounts on my bill simply by placing a call to them annually to see if there are deals I qualify for. So, it was not surprising when I recently started getting calls from people claiming to be with the satellite television provider, claiming I qualified for a discount.

My assumption was they were going to try to get me to bundle my internet or something, but out of curiosity I took one of their calls.

I have to give the scammers credit, they initially sounded like they were with DIRECTV. They asked for my account PIN number to verify me, which I provided as it only verifies the account, it doesn't expose my payment information. They then thanked me for my recent payment and they even knew the amount I paid. Next, the scam began.

They said they wanted to offer me my same channel package at half price for two full years. But wait, there's more! I also qualified for a $150 Visa gift card as well as Nexflix and Disney+ free for two full years. To take advantage of this deal, I'd just need to pay for 6 months of service in advance. I'd make one lump payment, then not get a bill for six months. When I did get my next bill, it would be for half price until the two year promotional period ended.

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Wow, that sounds amazing, almost too good to be true. Of course I'd be interested in this offer! I say that somewhat sarcastically as I wondered why this was being offered or what the catch was. Once I asked this question, the scam revealed itself.

The guy on the phone said that Target Corporation was funding this promotion to draw attention to their new gift card program. It gets even better. All I would have to do is go to Target and buy enough of their gift cards to cover the amount of my 6-month lump payment. Then, I would call the number he provided, which he said was the DIRECTV billing department, and use my newly purchased Target gift cards to make the payment to get my promotion started.

When I pointed out that seemed like an unnecessary step and sounded like a scam, he got mad and said "What don't you understand?! Target made this happen for you and this is necessary to enjoy all these savings!"

I hung up on the guy, and instantly went online to DIRECTV. I got their official phone number and I quickly changed all of my log-in credentials for my account, including my PIN number, as he did seem to have limited access to my information. Thankfully, he didn't have my payment information, which isn't listed on my account.

I then called DIRECTV to inform them of this scam. They said they were just starting to get more calls about this and they thanked me for the information I provided.

Here's the silver lining. Before hanging up, I asked to be sent to the 'Customer Retention' area to see if I qualified for any legitimate discounts. After a quick check, the DIRECTV rep said they could offer me $55 off my monthly bill for the next 12 months, no strings attached.

While it's not half price for two full years with all the other goodies, at least this offer is real and I gladly accepted.

The lesson here is that scammers can sound legitimate initially, but once they start asking you to buy gift cards, or give them your social security number, credit card number or other similar information, it's time to hang up and report them. Sadly, some people fall for this stuff and get ripped off, so spread the word about this scam so they don't get anything from anyone.

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