Midland County Woman Falls Victim to "Slamming" Scam

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A Midland woman is hoping the feds can clear up the confusion after she's be getting phone bills, from the wrong company. Now, she says she's not the only local getting slammed. It's still not clear how many other West Texans are victims of the scam.

"I have to send a formal complaint, and that's going to take time," Rita Olvera, a Midland County resident and recent scam victim, explained. "So until then, I'm just going around in circles. I don't know what to do."

Olvera told NewsWest 9 on Friday she's not a hundred percent sure how or why she fell victim to a scam. It started in early October, when she tried to dial long distance on her landline.

"I could receive calls, I couldn't make calls because Sprint had put a block on my phone for nonpayment," Olvera said.

There's just one problem. Sprint is not her phone company. AT&T is her provider. Which is why she called Sprint to ask why several months back she started getting bills from them out of the blue.

"They said that my local company through something called a Source Code 1-A switched me over to them without me authoritizing anything and that they could do it," Olvera added.

Not long after that Olvera realized she had been, what the FCC calls, getting "Slammed."

"Slamming is the illegal practice of changing a consumer's phone number without their permission," Trish Powell, with the local Better Business Bureau, explained. "And this can be local or long distance, in this particular instance we're talking about long distance service."

But the story gets a little more confusing. Olvera said the Sprint bill she got, wasn't for her, it was for another AT&T customer in Midland County. She said she found out that person was also getting a Sprint bill for someone else.

"I can't even begin to discribe how it might happen because I don't understand it myself, but at the same time, the company that's involved is a very well known company, very well established company, that you would automatically just thinking about them would not think that they would have done something like this, knowing it's illegal," Powell said.

Powell with the Better Business Bureau said at this point, they can't say for sure who is to blame. However, she advised Olvera to report it to the FCC. Olvera told NewsWest 9 she just wants to make sure no one else becomes a victim too.

"To get it out, at least to the Midland public, Odessa public, because I know this is going much further than just three people here in Midland," Olvera said.

Olvera said she has straightened out her phone with AT&T so that it will work, but she doesn't expect to hear back from the FCC for several more weeks. Newswest 9 was unable to reach anyone from Sprint on Friday.