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Phone Scams

Telephone Technician Scam

In this scenario, a government agency or department employee may receive an incoming call from another person who falsely identifies himself/herself as a telephone technician performing a test on the telephone line.  The caller may ask the employee to depress the telephone switch, or to activate a conferencing feature.  Then, to complete the test, they would be asked to dial nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#), and then hang up.  REFUSE TO DO SO!!! 

By following the above instructions, employees could be giving the caller full access to their telephone line(s), thereby allowing that individual to place one or more long distance calls.  If successful, the charges for each call made in this way will be billed to your agency.

Area Code 809 Scam

DO NOT respond to emails, phone calls, or web pages which tell you to call an "809" phone number. This is a very important issue of Scam Busters! because it alerts you to a scam that is spreading *extremely* quickly and can easily cost you $24,100 or more and is difficult to avoid unless you are aware of it. We would like to thank Verizon for bringing this scam to our attention. This scam has also been identified by the National Fraud Information Center and is costing victims a lot of money. There are many different permutations of this scam.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS: You will receive a message on your answering machine or your pager, which asks you to call a number beginning with area code 809. The reason you are asked to call varies. It can be to receive information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone has been arrested, died, to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the US, you will apparently be charged $2425 per-minute. Or, you'll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $24,100.00.

WHY IT WORKS: The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas). The 809 area code can be used as a "pay-per-call" number, similar to 900 numbers in the US. Since 809 is not in the US, it is not covered by U.S. regulations of 900 numbers, which require that you be notified and warned of charges and rates involved when you call a "pay-per-call" number. There is also no requirement that the company provide a time period during which you may terminate the call without being charged. Further, whereas many U.S. phones have 900 number blocking to avoid these kinds of charges, 900 number blocking will not prevent calls to the 809 area code. We recommend that no matter how you get the message, if you are asked to call a number with an 809 area code that you do not recognize and/or investigate further and just disregard the message. Be wary of email or calls asking you to call an 809 area code number. It is important to prevent becoming a victim of this scam, since trying to fight the charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That is because you actually did make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You will end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong.