Summary: An email is going
around about phone messages and emails trying to get people to call area code
809. The email contains a supposed response from AT&T, but it is not from
AT&T. The email also contains erroneous information. The following is the
original email and the official reply from AT&T along with the URL of the
AT&T web page with the full story:
----Original Scam email:
-Subject: 809 Area Code
We actually received a call last week from the 809
area code. The woman said "Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you--get back to
us quickly. Have something important to tell you." Then she repeated a phone
number beginning with 809. We did not respond.
this week, we received the following email:
DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809, 284 AND 876
VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION PROVIDED TO US BY AT&T. DON'T EVER DIAL AREA
This one is being distributed all over the
US. This is pretty scary,
especially given the way
they try to get you to call. Be sure you read this and pass it on to all your
friends and family so they don't get scammed!
SCAM: Don't 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 can easily cost you $2400 or more, and is difficult to avoid unless you
are aware of it. We'd 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 lots of money.
are lots of 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're 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.
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, where as many U.S. homes that have 900 number blocking to
avoid these kinds of charges, do not work in preventing calls to the 809 area
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 don't
recognize just disregard the message. Be wary of email or calls asking you to
call an 809 area code number. It's important to prevent becoming a victim of
this scam, since trying to fight the charges afterwards can become a real
nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both
your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get
involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the
billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company
that argues they have done nothing wrong.
forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them
become aware of this scam.
Sandi Van Handel
AT&T Field Service Manager (920)687-904
Fraudsters have been distributing
bogus e-mails through the Internet that are purported to come from AT&T.
The topic, a phone scam involving the 809 area code. The scam itself is real,
however, the e-mail and warning contain erroneous information. AT&T would
like to set the record straight and separate fact from fiction.
The 809 area code scam first surfaced five years ago
and continues to victimize consumers on occasion, although much less frequently
than in the past. And there have been far more inquiries recently than
consumers actually being victimized.
How the Scam
Works: In most cases a message is left on an answering
machine or pager requesting the recipient call a number immediately for one of
several reasons. The most common involves calling for information about a
relative who has died, been arrested or injured. When consumers fall prey and
call the number, the scam artist attempts to keep the caller on the line for as
long as possible to increase the callers long distance calling charges.
The bogus e-mail claims the 809 area code sends
calls to the British Virgin Islands, when in fact 809 is the country code for
the Dominican Republic.
The e-mail also warns
consumers that dialing the 809 area code will result in charges of $2,400 per
minute. That simply isnt true. The basic rate for a call to the Dominican
Republic is less than $3 a minute although some 809 numbers terminate with
pay-per-call services that permit the levy of additional fees. Since numbers
located offshore are not subject to U.S. laws, there are no legal requirements
that consumers be informed in advance of the extra charge.
And lastly, the e-mail purports to originate within
AT&Ts corporate offices and includes the name and partial telephone
number of an imaginary employee.
Avoid Becoming a
Victim: To avoid falling prey to the scam, AT&T
recommends consumers know where theyre calling before they dial. When
consumers receive such a message from someone they dont know they should
simply disregard it.
Consumers should also be aware
that it is usually necessary to dial 011 to reach an international location.
However, there are some locations outside the United States, such as the
Caribbean and Canada, whose telephone numbers resemble domestic long-distance
calls, but carry a higher international rate.
consumer isnt familiar with a certain area code, they can visit
to look up any area code or country code in the world.