Scammers pretending to be representatives of the Dish Network, a satellite television company, are calling people in the area and offering a fraudulent discount in exchange for a security deposit and personal information.
The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office advises residents to not provide any personal information, hang up and call local law enforcement or Dish Network’s fraud hotline at (800) 333-3474.
“They are very professional scammers,” said Dan Bender, a Durango resident and former spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
He received a call last week from the scammers, who said they were updating his Dish Network receiver remotely.
“I taught classes on how to avoid scams at the Sheriff’s Office, and I personally got caught by these callers,” Bender said.
The caller ID on his phone said “Dish Network,” and the callers had his name and address, Bender said. The man on the phone said his name was Mike Williams and gave Bender what he said was a four-digit employee code.
“There was nothing initially suspicious,” he said.
The scammers told Bender they needed to check his receiver box and told him to push buttons on his remote.
“The screens that he said would come up did in fact come up,” Bender said. “All the directions seemed legitimate.”
Bender has also been a Dish Network customer for many years.
Because of the inconvenience, and because Bender has been a longtime customer, the scammers told him they would reduce his monthly bill by 20% for 36 months. The scammer told Bender he just needed to provide a $199 security deposit that “protected them (the ‘company’) if I decided to change to another service or upgrade to another Dish programming bundle,” he said.
The scammer said he would email Bender a bill and he could pay by credit card or check. Then they started asking questions that “seemed out of place,” such as asking for the last four digits of his Social Security number and his credit card information, Bender said.
The scammer initially asked Bender for his Dish Network customer number, which he didn’t have on hand. The caller said he could also provide the last four digits of his Social Security number, which is common for companies, Bender said.
The scammer put him on hold for about eight minutes, during which time Bender called the Dish Network to confirm whether the person on the other line was possibly part of a scam.
“If someone calls and asks for personal information, don’t provide it,” Bender said. “Hang up and call the official phone number for the company.”
When Bender called the official Dish Network, it changed the code on his satellite so that the scammers could not access his account again.
“If you have any doubts whatsoever, hang up and call the Dish Network,” Bender said.
The Dish Network said it has been receiving several calls every day about the scammers, and the company is aware of the issue, Bender said.
“For your protection, Dish Network will never call or email you asking for your personal- or Dish account-related information,” said Karen Modlin, a spokeswoman for Dish Network. “Please do not give out this information.”
If people have additional concerns, they should also call the Sheriff’s Office, he said.