The 90# Telephone Scam is not a real service call from your telephone company.
To protect yourself, family, friends and your business from this scam, you need to understand how the 9-0-# scam works and how it applies to you.
The truth about this scam is, it only effects a small group of telephone systems and it is mostly businesses which are vulnerable to this scam. This scam does not generally affect residential or cell phone customers, though it may still be possible as a residential customer to become a target of this scam. For the most part, only businesses, hospitals, government agencies, and other organizations using PBX (Private Branch Exchanges) telephone systems, rather than Centrex lines to handle their calls are the target of this scam.
On some PBX telephone systems, pressing ‘9’ activates a signal to obtain an outside line (thus the reason the number ‘9’ is part of the sequence you dial). If you have ever worked for any size of company, you have probably come in contact with this feature. If this same PBX telephone system lacks restrictions on outgoing calls, all telephone numbers associated with your system are a potential target!
Dialing 9-0-# could transfer a call to an outside operator (‘0’ for Operator – thus the reason the number ‘0’ is a part of the dialing sequence) and give the scam artist the ability to call anywhere in the world, while charging the call to your business’ phone bill. PLEASE REMEMBER, this scam requires participation on your end of the telephone. This scam only works if the scam artist can trick you into initiating the 9-0-# sequence.
If your company’s telephone system doesn’t require you to dial ‘9’ for an outside line the 9-0-# scam does not affect you. Also, if your company’s telephone system prevents or blocks all long distance calls once you have accessed an outside line, the 9-0-# scam will not apply to you.
NO CAUSE FOR PANIC – unless you have to dial ‘9’ for an outside line at you home, the 9-0-# scam will not affect your residential telephone service. There are very few residential environments with this ability, though a large apartment complex or large group of condominiums may have one phone system for all units. In this instance, each unit would still have their own telephone number, but may be required to dial ‘9’ to get an outside line. If this residential situation applies to you, then you could also be a target of this scam!
PLEASE BE AWARE – The 9-0-# scam could have a few different variations. Newer PBX telephone systems my not require you to specifically dial ‘9’ for an outside line. You may need to dial ‘9-0’ or ‘0-9’ for an outside line. Your phone system may not use the number ‘9’ as the code for an outside line. Some PBX telephone systems allow the user to choose the outside line code, and in some systems it could be any series of randomly selected numbers (I.E. 880, 721, 799 or etc.)!
You have to be aware of the situation and what you are being asked over the phone to do. If your phone system uses 9-1-9 for an outside line, then dialing 9-0-# wont activate this scam (however, in this instance, dialing 9-1-9-0-# may still allow the scam to work)!
As long as there is an easy dollar to be made, there will be people trying to rip others off. This has changed for the good in recent years due to stricter telemarketing laws, harsher penalties and enforcement of the National Do Not Call Registry by the FCC and/or FTC. This has all come together to help reduce the number of calls and protect us from those after the quick buck.
Always be suspicious of a telephone call where you are asked to do initiate something on your end. Why would you be asked to do anything with your phone system? Your company will have a telephone technician who is responsible for making modifications or running tests on your phone system. Always defer telephone calls asking to test anything to this person!
If you think you may have been a victim of this telephone scam, call your telephone technician and the administrator of the telephone account. Make sure your telephone company is aware of your suspicion, and always file a report with the police if your were in fact the target of this scam.