Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) may have a monster dividend north of 5% for investors, but the telecom and communications giant could soon face a liability if a current trend continues. Scammers and spammers are using Verizon’s mobile phone text service to try to lure unsuspecting consumers into a trap. As a warning, DO NOT try to call these telephone numbers as these are being listed so that when you search you can know these are frauds.
In the last two weeks or so there was a large fake Bank of America scam text from (917)476-6256 that led to an obvious automated voice system warning of a Visa Gold account being compromised. A representative from the local Bank of America branch (and no not from that number) has confirmed that this was a scam.
In the middle of the night (early this Thursday morning around 2 AM) came a scam or spam text message from (706) 362-7607 which woke me up and it is a scam or a spam offering up a free iPad to the first 1,000 respondents who will go some iPad giveaway website and enter a code. Again, do not call the number.
Another scam or spam that came out this week was a text from (847) 315-0415 offering up a “Dear Starbucks customer” text offering up a $50 Starbucks gift card with the instructions to visit a gift card website.
What is happening is that scammers or spammers are using some of the most popular brands out there that likely have millions of customers to troll for unsuspecting users. The idea is that they will ultimately reach someone who thinks that they are being reached out to by the company itself or by someone giving away their products.
What sort of liability will fall on Verizon for this is unknown. It is very similar to being an email provider and having scams and spam sent through their email systems. The ultimate liability of the carrier or provider may actually be close to zero on a finite dollar figure and may fall under the “cost of doing business” and “buyer beware” laws and regulations. Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX), and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) likely have no liability in this because they are also victim of name-theft for scams and spam all the time.
There is apparently another scam going around where customers are receiving fake emails with redirect websites sending unsuspecting customers to a foreign website that almost looks identical to the real thing. That one might not be Verizon’s fault, but for text messages to be blasted out in the degree that they are is something that could eventually bite Verizon in the pocketbook down the road if Verizon Communications does not start doing a better job policing these text blasts. The liability for doing nothing to stop this down the road could get very high, even if it comes down to only the cost of having unhappy customers who leave to go elsewhere.
JON C. OGG