There are lots of chain emails floating around out there warning of long-distance phone scams. While there is a kernal of truth to many of them, the details are often greatly exagerrated in the emails to really grab the reader's attention. This article will help to give you the real fact and let you know what you really need to watch out for.
The first of these scams is the "809 Area Code Scam". The email warnings say that you will receive a message on your phone or pager asking you to call a number with an 809 area code. The reasons for calling can vary and may include :
- You have won sweepstakes prizes and have to call to claim the money.
- You have a bill or credit debt that is past due and must be paid right away to avoid punishment.
- You are being solicited to become a "mystery shopper" and will be paid very well for a few hours of work per day.
- A family member is deathly ill or injured and needs your help.
- You are being considered for a job position and must call to answer questions and provide your information.
According to the email, if you fall for any of these schemes and call the number, you will be connected to either a fax machine, a very long recorded message, or a pay-per-call service, all with the intention of keeping you on the line as long as possible while your bill shoots up. Up until this point, the email is pretty truthful. These scams DO exist. However, the email warnings also say that you will be charged over $2,000 per minute. In fact, the charges for these scams tend to be $25-$100 per minute - not as high as claimed by the email, but still enough to make your jaw drop when you see it on your phone bill!
So why does this work? It's because the 809 area code is not within the US - it is in the Caribbean, outside of US laws. Many consumers also mistake the "809" for a toll-free "800" number and don't think twice about calling. The Better Business Bureau encourages people to not be taken in, no matter which "line" is being used on you to entice you to call. The only reason you should be dialing area code 809 is if you personally know someone with that area code. If anyone you do not know contacts you and wants you to use it... think twice.