Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Urgent Public Phone Scam Announcement

Beware: Don't Return Calls To These Area Codes

This is vital "must know" information if you want to keep informed.  It affects everyone internationally, Caribbean people have the potential to become victims of these scams.

One of our more popular post in the past has been the Caribbean Web Site Scam Alert has been read and shared over and over.  Hopefully it saved one person from making a costly mistake.

Today, the focus is on mobile phone scams that are usually perpetrated by unscrupulous international con artists.  It may never happen to you but at least you will be able to advise a friend of what can be done to report a scam.  Read the entire post, share it with anyone you think may need to know.

The source is US Federal Trade Commission but you can report scams even if they occur outside of the US.

The information follows:

BLUF:  DO NOT return any Area Code 809, 649, 284, or 876 calls, unless you are absolutely sure of the number you're calling.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently learned that an old long distance phone scam that leads consumers (mostly elderly and retirees) to incur high charges on their phone bills may now affect wireless consumers. In the past, consumers have been fooled into making expensive international calls by scam artists who leave messages on consumers' answering machines or their email accounts. The messages urge consumers to call a number with an "809," "284," "876," or some other area code to collect a prize, find out about a sick relative, or engage in sex talk, etc.

Wireless consumers are now receiving similar calls from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that appear to be domestic, but are actually associated with international pay-per-call phone numbers. While wireless companies are working to block suspicious numbers on their networks, some consumers may become victims of this scam. 

The Scam Works Something Like This:

+ Your wireless phone rings once or twice and then disconnects the call. When the number appears in your wireless phone log as a missed call, it appears to be a typical domestic telephone number starting with a "649" area code; or you get an email or voicemail (on your residential wired telephone) telling you to call a phone number with an "809", "284", "876" or some other three-digit international area code.

+ When you return the call, you assume you are making a domestic long distance call - as "649," "809," "284," "876" and other area codes involved in this scam, appear to be typical three-digit U.S. area codes. 

+ When you dial the three-digit area code plus the number, however, you are connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and are charged expensive international call rates, and may be charged for pay-per-call services as well. (In this case, "649" goes to the Turks and Caicos, "809" goes to the Dominican Republic, "284" goes to the British Virgin Islands, and "876" goes to Jamaica.)

+ You don't find out about the higher international call rates until you receive your phone bill.

NOTE:  Many Caribbean countries can be dialed using the "1" prefix that's used to dial long distance in the US.

What You Can Do to Minimize the Risk of This Happening to You:


+ Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls.

+ Be aware that there are many 3-digit area codes (mostly in the Caribbean) that connect callers to international telephone numbers.

+ If you do not otherwise make international calls, ask your local or wireless phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.

Filing a Complaint with the FCC in the US:

If you are billed for a call you made as a result of this scam, first try to resolve the matter with your telephone company. If you are unable to resolve it directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an FCC online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC's Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to: 

  Federal Communications Commission 
  Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 
  Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division 
  445 12th Street, SW 
  Washington, DC 20554. 

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete fully the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

+ your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached; 

+ the telephone and account numbers that are the subject of your complaint; 

+ the name and phone numbers of any companies involved with your complaint; 

+ the amount of any disputed charges, whether you paid them, whether you received a refund or adjustment to your bill, the amount of any adjustment or refund you have received, an explanation if the disputed charges are related to services in addition to residential or business telephone services; and 

+ the details of your complaint and any additional relevant information. 

Filing a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): International


If you feel that you are a victim of an international phone scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC online. You can also submit a complaint by calling the FTC toll-free at 1-877-382-4357 (voice) or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY), or by writing to:

  Federal Trade Commission
  CRC - 240
  600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
  Washington, DC 20580.

For More Information:

For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau website, or contact the FCC's Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.

Print Outs
Calls from "809," "649," "284" Area Codes Guide 

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