876, 809, 284 or 649 Area Code Scam

August 22, 2011

The 809, 284, 649 or 876 area codes have been used in scams before but now this older scam is gaining popularity targeting cellphones. The goal of the scam is to make you return the call to the area code which appears to be a domestic number and incur high charges on your phone bill.

Since there are so many new area codes these days, the caller assumes the number is a typical three-digit U.S. area code; however, the caller is actually connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and charged expensive international call rates, often in the amount of $25 to $100 a minute.

In the past, scam artists left messages on consumers’ answering machines or in their email inboxes. The messages urged consumers to call a number with an “809,” “284,” “876,” or some other area code to collect a prize, get some information, find out about a sick relative, etc. In the most recent version the scenario may look like this:

Your phone rings and becomes a missed call within 2 rings. When you call back, you are inadvertently connected to a phone outside the US and are kept on it as long as possible to acquire high charges. You don’t find out about the higher international call rates until you receive your phone bill.

The BBB recommends that you only call back numbers that
you recognize or you can identify the area code.

For more information on this scam or to file a complaint please refer to the FCC web site at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/809.html