AT&T Scams: What They Are and How to Protect Yourself From Them

Mobilize your response to scammers to send them packing

There are multiple text and online scams designed to target unsuspecting AT&T customers. The sheer volume of customers with the telecom giant makes it too hard for criminals to resist finding weak spots. It's all an effort to part you from your hard-earned money but you can stop them in their tracks.

What Is the AT&T Scam?

An example of a fake email claiming the AT&T account could be closed.

There is no single scam involving the use of AT&T's reputation and logo. Instead, there are dozens that involve phone calls, texts, and email communications from scammers. Examples include:

  • A phone call from someone pretending to represent the company and offering to help you with a problem or requesting that you take a survey.
  • A phone call offering prepaid credit or gift cards through the company.
  • A text offering an AT&T promotion designed to save you money if you pay your cable bill six months in advance.
  • A phone call supposedly from AT&T tech support, offering to access your computer and fix it a problem you don't really have.
  • An email with fraudulent links claiming AT&T will help fix a (fake) computer problem.
  • An email emulating your regular bill and asking you to open the attachment.
  • A text offering a discount at AT&T if you purchase specific eBay gift cards.
  • Phone calls claiming that very large amounts of money are owed to AT&T and that service will be cut off unless immediate payment is made.
  • An email, text, or phone call claiming your AT&T account has been suspended.
  • An automated phone call from a seemingly legitimate AT&T number that claims your account has been compromised or needs an update.

The list goes on and on. Ultimately, these scammers ask for sensitive information like your social security numbers, password, or credit card number to 'verify your account' or some other seeming legitimate action.

How Does the Scam Work?

A scam text requesting the recipient call a fake phone number to save on AT&T bills
 KHOU TV

The goal of all of these scams is to separate you from your money by obtaining your personal information (usernames, passwords, address, phone number, social security number, etc.)

In the case of the phone scams, a common trick called spoofing is used to convince you that the call is truly coming from AT&T. Emails you might receive are actually phishing attacks designed to lure you into believe AT&T is really emailing you to ask all these personal questions.

Texting variations of these scams involve a technique called smishing while the automated voice recordings are known as vishing attacks.

In all versions, scammers are working hard to convince you they are AT&T representatives who need your sensitive information. They then use it to empty your bank account, purchase things from your AT&T account and have them sent to other locations,

How Do Scammers Find Victims for These Scams?

Email lists and phone numbers are stolen daily from businesses around the world. Because AT&T is so large and well-known, scammers often simply send out these communications using a blanket approach knowing that at least some of the recipients will be AT&T customers.

Criminals often include your name to make the scam seem more real but don't fall for it. They actually have no idea who you are; your name and phone number are simply among the thousands on their list.

I'm Already a Victim. What Should I Do?

An example of a scam AT&T account bill sent via email.

If you've fallen for one of these scams, you're not alone. They can be very convincing; scammers are becoming more sophisticated with elaborate backup phone numbers you can call and fake websites that look amazingly similar to the real thing.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or a scam, immediately contact your bank and credit card companies to secure your accounts and block any transactions that might have been made.

You should also change your username and password details on all online accounts. When you do, add two-factor authentication (2FA) to any accounts that offer it. That offers an added layer of protection to protect you in the future and reduce the panic involved should scammers ever target you again.

You can also file separate reports via the FBI website or local FBI field office and the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant. It's a good idea to keep records (such as copies of texts or emails) in case they’re ever needed for a future investigation or court case.

How Do I Avoid Being Targeted for the Next AT&T Scam?

Because of the blanket approach used in these types of scams, it's unlikely you can ever really avoid becoming a target again. What you can do, however, is avoid becoming a victim.

  • Don't hand out your phone number or email address needlessly. The more it's out there in the world, the more opportunity there is for thieves to steal it.
  • Keep a healthy skepticism when listening to callers or reading texts and emails. For example, AT&T will never call you to ask for prepayments for prepaid debit or gift cards. They also don't ask for social security numbers or zip codes unless you call them.
  • Always call AT&T at the number found on your bill. Never use a phone number or email address for them that someone you don't know has sent you.
  • Never, ever respond to a suspicious text. Just delete the message and block the sender. Replying STOP only confirms your phone is active, which encourages more texts.
  • Don't click links in emails or texts unless you can confirm it came from AT&T. Go a step farther: If you weren't expecting the communication, call AT&T using the phone number on your bill and ask them to confirm the email or text is legitimate.