Scam Artists Are Working out of Area Code 809, 284, or 876-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
The email warns never to call area code 809, 284, or 876 because you could get charged $25 or more per minute for the call. It goes on to describe various ways in which scam artists in the Virgin Islands are tricking people into returning their calls, then charging outrageous rates for making the call. (Complete versions are below.)
This is one of those eRumors that was wrong to begin with and has gotten even more confusing as it has circulated. We’ll try to unravel it.
The bottom line is that you don’t need to completely avoid calling area codes 809, 284, or 876, especially if you know who you are calling. You do need to be suspicious about strange messages you might get that ask you to return a call to the Caribbean.
Here are the details:
1. The original eRumor warned not to ever call area 809 and that if you did, you would be subject to outrageous charges from scam artists in the Virgin Islands. Area 809 is a legitimate area code in the Caribbean, (which at the moment is the area code for the Dominican Republic), and there has never been any danger from making a normal call to there. There have been scam artists, however, that operated out of the Caribbean by leaving messages for people who, when they returned the call, were unknowingly dialing a number that automatically billed them extremely high charges. That was the reason for the warning. Folks were charged anywhere from $10 to $100 per minute and were kept on the line as long as possible. Some of the messages asked for a voice call in return. Some asked for information to be faxed.
2. The original eRumor did quote Scambusters (www.scambusters.com), but they warn that the message picked up some wrong facts along the way and they are not the source for
all of the information.
3. Telephone companies have issued warnings to consumers in the United States about how easy it is to be dialing a Caribbean number without realizing that it’s an international call and will cost more than a domestic call. Normally, an international call from the U.S. is preceded by dialing “011.” The Caribbean calls are international, but with domestic looking area codes.
So what has happened is that the warning about the scam artists was turned into an unnecessary warning to never call area 809 and now the caution about being aware of the Caribbean area codes being international calls has been wrapped up with the story about the scam artists and turned into an unnecessary warning to never call 809, 284, or 876.