Is this a real scam or just alarmist?
Origins: Although the basics of the "809 area code" scam were once real, this item has also become one of the most relentlessly overpublicized instances of online scarelore, with dire warnings all out of proportion to the scam's rate of occurrence and potential for damage having continuously circulated on the Internet for the better part of a decade.
Specifically, four important pieces of information to note about this scam are:
- Not every phone number in the
809 areacode is part of this scam, and calling such a number will not necessarily result in exorbitantly large charges on your phone bill. Most numbers within the 809 areacode are ordinary, legitimate phone numbers within the Dominican Republic.
- This scam has been used with other area codes besides 809.
- The amounts of money involved have become greatly exaggerated as this warning has circulated on the Internet.
- This scam is no longer very common, and the average U.S. resident is unlikely to ever encounter it.
The scheme preyed upon U.S. and Canadian residents unfamiliar with the complexities of the phone system back when North American area codes were first assigned to outlying territories. Most North American residents at the time expected that when they placed a call to a standard area code
- They have won sweepstakes or lottery prizes they must call to claim.
- A family member is desperately ill or injured.
- A bill or credit card debt is past due and needs to straightened out immediately to avoid collection action or an endangered credit rating.
- They are being offered solicitations to become "mystery shoppers" who will be well compensated for a few hours work per day. (The "applicants" are kept on the phone through a lengthy
sign-upprocedure that never results in anyone's getting a job.)
- They are being considered for employment and must transmit lengthy forms covering quotations on proposed jobs or information about their services and prices.
Once the victim placed a call, he was typically connected to a fax machine, lengthy recorded message, or a
As mentioned above, the amounts of money involved in these scams has been greatly exaggerated (probably by computer-introduced transcription errors) to the point that readers are now warned they may be charged more than $2,400 per minute if they fall for this scam! Actually, a victim might realistically have been taken for $25 or so, but not thousands of dollars (and in most cases customers can now get
such charges removed from their bills by contacting their phone service providers). This scheme has been worked with a variety of Caribbean area codes, not just the
Warnings have been posted at the site of the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) alerting businessmen especially to "faxback" solicitations employing the
The Better Business Bureau strongly recommends that no matter how consumers are approached, if they are asked to respond to an
Barbara "(what a) sorry wrong number!" Mikkelson
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/fraud/telephone/809.asp#LXzV4UDVfZQAFoVO.99