International Phone Number Scams
If you receive a message on your phone or via e-mail asking you to call a phone number in the "809" area code to retrieve prize money or resolve mysterious litigation, do not return the call. You are most likely stepping into what is known as the "809" phone number scam. Most people do not realize when they call the "809" number, they are making an international call to the Caribbean. Worse still, if you return such calls, you may end up being charged a huge amount of money on your phone bill because these numbers may operate like "900" numbers in the United States.
809 Scam Facts
"809" scam runners are not required by law to inform you that you will be charged extra when you call the phone number. In addition, when you make the call, whomever you speak with will try to induce you to stay on the phone just as long as possible. These calls can cost you upwards of $.25 per minute!
Previously, the "809" area code was assigned to all phone numbers in the Caribbean, and therefore, it was easy to find out what kind of scam you were experiencing. However, new area codes have now been assigned in the region, and therefore, you need to be aware of these to protect yourself against potential fraud. At present, the "268" area code is being used for scam purposes, and AT&T has released other area codes for the region that should cause you to think twice if you receive strange messages asking you to call. These warning area codes are as follows:
- Bahamas 242
- Barbados 246
- Antigua 268
- Cayman Islands 345
- Montserrat 664
- St. Lucia 758
- Puerto Rico 787
- St. Kitts/Nevis 869
- Jamaica 876
- Bermuda 441
800 Rollover Scam
Another scam that is being conducted utilizes an advertisement in a newspaper or on the Internet, which persuades you to call an "800" number to inquire about an international mystery shopping job. When you make the phone call, you are put on hold for around 15 or 20 minutes. After that time, you may or may NOT be alerted that you are about to be rolled over to a toll call, i.e. "809" number, and you will be charged a huge pay-per-call rate.
Many companies today offer computerized, fax-back services. Customers can send in a request for documents to be automatically faxed to a given number. Some of the "809" scammers have used these services to have faxed documents sent to the pay-per-call numbers. The company is then charged a whopping fee per-minute for the faxes.
Should you see any of the area codes listed above, or feel inclined to call an 800 number that involves a job that is "too good to be true," think twice. Your phone bill will thank you for avoiding these expensive calls.