Columbia police warn residents of Centurytel phone scam

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department said it received several complaints Monday of a phone scam.

CPD said the caller impersonates an employee of Centurytel. The caller then tells the person who answers the phone they have a ten dollar late fee that needs to be paid immediately.

The caller uses a number that contains all zeros, according to CPD.

Chief Counsel of Consumer Protection Joseph Bindbeutel said it is easy for scammers to disguise their phone numbers.

"It is very common to have a phone number with an area code that is the nation's capital or ending in three or four zeros. It makes it look like a very official number. Don't trust that information," Bindbeutel said.

Bindbeutel said the small charge of ten dollars is not necessarily what they are trying to get from consumer.

"What they really want you to do is pay them some money, give them some of your personal information, write you a check. Open up some avenue where they can take a lot more than ten dollars from you," Bindbeutal said.

Bindbeutel and CPD both recommend people never give out personal information like credit card numbers and date of birth over the phone. They also recommend potential victims collect information from the caller and then call back to verify information.

The state Attorney General's office said it had not received any complaints on the Centurytel phone scam as of Monday.