Scammers spoofing numbers to target local businesses

Scammers spoofing numbers to target local businesses
Scammers spoofing numbers to target Lubbock businesses

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Robbie Bunch has owned Balloons by the Bunch off of 50th Street in Lubbock for nearly 40 years.

"I've actually been in Lubbock since 1980 If you can believe it," Brunch said.

Birthday parties, events, holiday parties, he is busy year-round, but a phone scammer recently tried to burst his bubble.

Bunch said someone called claiming to be with LP&L and saying they had not received his payments for the past three months.

"I said, 'Well, I am going to call LP&L and find out what is going on. I am going to call the City of Lubbock, and he said, 'I am the City of Lubbock,'" Bunch said.

According to the Caller ID, it was someone from the City of Lubbock, making Bunch question if this was a legitimate call.

Bunch said the caller told him if he did not have a payment ready in the form of a money order within a few hours, his electricity would be turned off.

Suspicious, Bunch hung up and called the City of Lubbock Utilities.

He said someone with LP&L confirmed they had received his payments and on time.

Matt Rose is the spokesperson for the City of Lubbock Utilities and said this scam picks up during the holidays.

"There will never be a moment where somebody, a live person, will call you and demand you pay your utility bill over the phone or else you will be disconnected," Rose said.

Rose said LP&L does have an automated courtesy reminder if someone misses a scheduled due date, telling the customer to call 806-775-2509 to check on the status of their account.

"There will certainly never be an instance where someone will show up at, say your place of business, and say, 'I'm here with LP&L or the City of Lubbock and we are here to disconnect unless you pay.' we don't even have that function. Our folks don't even have the ability out in the field to process payments," Rose said.

The Federal Trade Commission said phone scammers make more than 2.4 billion calls a month.

And like Rose said, the pace picks up around the holidays as con artists also try to take advantage of people's generosity and trick them into donating to phony causes.

The calls work, with more than ten percent of Americans falling victim to a phone scam.

First Orion, a telecommunications provider, studied when scammers are most likely to blitz phone numbers.

The company said scammers hit their peak on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Again, do not pay any attention to Caller ID.

Scammers now regularly spoof numbers so they can look like they are calling from a local number, a trusted business or even a government agency, which is exactly what happened to Bunch.

There are apps that can spot and block many of these calls.

Truecaller is free and compares callers to a list of known robocallers, then warns you if it is spam.

Hiya is another free Caller ID and blocking service.

Nomorobo is free for a trial period, but then costs 41.99 a month.

Again, the City of Lubbock Utilities and the individual city-owned utilities do not conduct business door-to-door, and will not contact customers over the phone or in person to request credit card information or threaten immediate termination of service.

Click here to learn more about scam prevention.

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