Most of us know telephone numbers starting with 800, 888, 877 and 866 are a “Toll Free” telephone call. Toll Free numbers ring to a Long Distance telephone number, but the bill (TOLL) is paid by the company owning the Toll Free number. The North American Numbering Plan has also reserved 855, 844, 833, 822, 880, 881, 882, 883, 884, 885, 886, 887 and 889 for future Toll Free expansion.
Many people also know 900 numbers are telephone numbers where you are billed for the long distance call at an exorbitant rate. People think of these numbers being associated with escort services or talk lines, though they can be associated with just about any type of business. The additional cost added to the standard long distance rate, is paid to the company who owns the 900 number. A legitimate company may utilize a 900 number for technical support, so callers are charged for the time they are receiving assistance, without having to give out personal and/or credit card information over the phone. Instead the bill is added to the caller’s telephone bill.
In the “Area Code 809 Telephone Scam” you are told to call 809 number right away, because a friend or family member of yours, is in some kind of trouble (I.E. Arrested, Detained, Robbed, Sick, Stranded, and etc.), or that you have won some type of prize. You are told to call a telephone number for additional information. I have written about a variation of this scam before (I.E “Popular Facebook Scams“). The Area Code 809 Telephone Scam is different in that you are told to call a number, instead of being asked to send money via wire or bank transfer.
Scammers usually initiate conversation by email. However, recently this scam has shown up on social networking communities such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. There are even reports of this scam by telephone, where you are left a message to return a call to the 809 number. No matter how the scam is delivered, you should be able to identify it as a scam, because the content is basically the same, no matter where you see it.
Very few people understand exactly how exactly how the telephone numbering and long distance billing systems work. This along with all the new area codes offer a lot of confusion, so people will call the 809 number, where you’ll get a long recorded message. The idea is to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges.
The 809 area code is located somewhere in the Dominican Republic and is billed similar to a 900 number. There are reports of calls made from the U.S. costing up to $2425 per-minute.
Once you have fallen for the scam, getting the charges removed is sure to be a real pain in the back side. If you complain to your local phone company and/or your long distance carrier, they will tell you they are simply providing the billing for the foreign telephone company and will verify that you did actually place the call. To get any resolution, you’ll have to present your dispute to the foreign telephone company. The foreign telephone company will argue they have done nothing wrong and that you are the one who made the call. In the mean time, your conversation with the foreign telephone company will most likely be a long distance call, and will be billed to you as a call to a foreign country.
The best way to avoid a billing dispute with the foreign telephone company is simply not fall prey to the scam in the first place!
AT&T has confirmed the severity of this scam and even talks about how it works.
This scam is most prominently found by the 809 area code, but has been identified from the 284 and 876 area codes as well. It is important you understand though, this scam could easily be run from any area code.