Is the "809" area code scam a real one?
This question was answered on November 3, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
The e-mail warnings that are going around concerning the use of phone numbers that start with the 809 area code are based in part in fact, but has many misleading statements.
The first generation of this scam surfaced in 1996 and is no making the rounds once again.
The "809" scam has several variations but they all involve a message to you (either by email, phone or pager) that you immediately call or fax a number in the "809" area code or some other area code in the Caribbean Examples of why you should call or fax the phone number include avoiding litigation, receiving information about someone who has been arrested or died, winning a wonderful prize, or getting a job.
The "809" area code is used in Bahamas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and most of the islands in the Caribbean Since you simply dial 1-809.. to make the call, most people are not aware that they are making an international call when they dial the "809" area code No international codes are required.
The real problem comes in when a "809" area code number is actually a "pay-per-call" number (such as 900 numbers in the US) - but there are no legal requirements that callers be informed that they are being charged extra in the Caribbean When you return one of these "pay-per-call" 809 calls, the scamers try to keep you on the phone as long as possible, and you may be charged very high rates for the call, reportedly up to $25 per minute.
It is difficult to get credit for these charges if you do get scammed since you did make the call, and resolving the problem involves getting credit from international phone companies.
Since there are now many area codes in the Caribbean, this scam is no longer confined to just the 809 area code.
Not all calls to an 809 area code are a scam, but make sure that you know who you are calling.
For a complete chart of current area codes and their associated locations, go to:
<a href="http://datadoctors.com/areacodescam.htm"><font color="#003399">>http://datadoctors.com/areacodescam.htm</b></font></a>
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 3, 2000