Essentially, it tells people to beware of a scam in which somebody
leaves a message on your answering machine, telling you that a relative
died (or you've won a prize, or anything they can say to get you to
their call). They give a phone number with area code 809 (if memory
If you call, they keep you on the phone as long as possible. The story
that this 809 is something like an out-of-country 900, and your phone
show HUGE charges, which you cannot get out of because you did make the
Allegedly, the calls go to the Carribean or something.
Like I said, it sure _sounds_ like a UL...
David E. Bloomberg, Chairman www.reall.org
Rational Examination Association of Lincoln Land (REALL)
(But speaking only for myself unless I specifically state otherwise.)
"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi
A2BIOMED <a2bi...@aol.com> wrote in article
> Oh man, oh man, oh man I wanna flame him but he doesn't know any better.
flame who, what, what'd I miss?
> you missed a guy asking about a rumor that people leave messages on your
> machine having you call the 809 area code back, and they charge you a
> He wanted to know if any of us had heard this one...
> Richard "AOL Sucks 'cause it doesn't quote messages in the reply sorry"
So can't you cut and paste and put in little greater than symbols all by
David "Just had to ask" Burnside
Well, if you'd look in the front pages of your local telephone
directory where they keep the Area Code map, you'll see that 809
is indeed the area code for many Caribbean islands, including
some that are not part of the U.S.A.
For further information on these scams, in addition to the
instructions Bo Bradham posted, you might also look in
the comp.dcom.telecom newsgroup, where it has been discussed.
Bruce Tindall tin...@panix.com
I checked the table of area codes in the current Bell Atlantic phone
book for my area. It has a map of the US with all the area codes for
the continental US, neighboring provinces of Canada, Alaska, Hawaii,
and the territories of Puerto Rico and others. The Caribbean Islands do
have an area code of 809. They are out of country calls and could be
quite expensive if someone stays on the line for a long period of time.
Now the only thing to ask is if people are really setting up the scam
like its been reported.
>So can't you cut and paste and put in little greater than symbols all by
>David "Just had to ask" Burnside
Ouch. This crowd really is ruthless. I guess I deserved it for wanting
to flame that first rumor guy. Still, it stings. Ouch, ouch.
> We had some threads about this a few months ago, they're
> available on www.dejanews.com. I don't remember the Subject
> header but search on "809" and "scam" and go from there.
> I don't think I posted about it at the time, but the lo cal TV news here
> in Virginia had an article about the scams, warning people not to
> respond to pages to 809- numbers. They also showed a classified
> ad from a newspaper, sort of a "make-money-fast" looking thing, and
> the number to call was 809-.
There was a new wrinkle on the 809 phone scam issue that was covered
in Fay Faron's syndicated column:
Dear Rat Dog: In a recent column you wrote about the 809 area
code scam. I think I may have fallen prey to a branch of this
Unlike your other caller, I did not receive a phone call about
a relative in a hospital; I answered an advertisement about
The ad gave a number to call. According to my phone bill, the
number turned out to be in New Orleans. The recorded message
instructed me to call an 809 number, eventually found to be in
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Finally, after quite a bit
of recorded hype, I received the names and addresses of 17
companies looking for Mystery Shoppers. I wrote each of them
but have not heard back from any.
My $39 telephone call lasted 28 minutes. Had I stayed on the
line for the entire message, it probably would have been a lot
Could you please determine if any or all of these companies
are legitimate or if the whole Mystery Shopper thing is a
scam? -- Carolyn in Stephensville, Texas
Dear Carolyn: I'm not sure what thos folds consider "mystery
shoppers" to be, but in my world, they are detectives who
specialize in visiting boutiques, bars and restaurants,
checking to see if the clerks are properly ringing up the
merchandise or slipping the proceeds into their own pockets.
I'm like you. I am inherently drawn to any job opportunity
containing the word "shopping." I am certain the ad you saw
got an excellent response.
But the truth is that "shopping" is a skilled specialty
requiring extensive training. It's not something for which
a reputable investigative outfit would normally recruit via
Operating out of the Dominican Republic, the company has
consciously based itself in a place where phone rates are
higher than the noonday sun, electricity comes and goes
with the tide and water runs mostly along the shore -- but,
on the upside, the outfit is not accountable to U.S. law.
FYI, new offshore area codes: 242 for the Bahamas, 246 for
Barbados, 441 for Bermuda, 787 for Puerto Rico and 876 for
It would not surprise me if some of those businesses
eventually respond to your inquiry. After all, since you
fell for the 809 business, why wouldn't you be a good
candidate for purchasing a super-duper $140 getting-
acquainted starter kit?
Larry "Is there a 666 area code?" Kubicz
As I posted the last time this came up,
there is no connection whatsoever between 809 and 900 numbers.
Some 809 numbers are, however, international calls.
The scam is that people don't realize this and dial
them and expect to pay a dime a minute. Instead they
get billed the normal international rates which may
be around $1 or $2 a minute. But this would be the same
rate you would be charged to call your grandmother if
she lived in the country you called.
The phone company in the foreign country gets paid a
portion of the per-minute fee to complete the call
and they share a portion of the profit with the scam
operators who tricked you into calling the number.
But some people still don't get the concept that you
can dial an ordinary area code and get a foreign country
(like Canada). So they see these large bills (that
weren't the 10 cents a minute they expected) and make
up stories that 809 calls work like 900 calls.
Now, a long time ago there was a different scam going
around: Ads would appear in the back of adult magazines
urging you to dial an 809 number with a 10XXX prefix
in front of it. The 10xxx prefix would route your
call thru a long distance company that charged very
high rates for international calls. The long distance
company would have a financial interest in the business
that received the calls. This practice has been outlawed
by the FCC.
If you dial an 809 number, you will be charged only the
normal rate that your long distance company (AT&T, MCI,
Sprint, etc) charges
for all calls to the country being called, which is
probably higher than the domestic rate.
Note that the 809 area code is being split up into smaller
area codes, one per country (it currently covers several
countries including parts of the US). Then you will
have other area codes to watch out for. If in doubt,
instead of dialing 1-809-xxx-xxxx to return a page,
dial 0-809-xxx-xxxx. When the operator answers, ask
what country the call is going to and what is the
rate for the call. Then hang up and either redial
with a "1" or don't answer the page. Do this for any
page that has an unfamiliar area code, since new area
codes are being introduced to these various countries.
This isn't exactly a robust verification, but...
I am currently contracting at USWest, and this came down from corporate.
I regrettably no longer have the email, but I remember it was detailed and
precise, lacking the vagaries and signs of mutuation that tag an UL. They
explained how 809 was not governed by the regulations that US exchanges
follow, and how there were indeed charging 900 like fees above and
beyond regular tolls. They even gave a 800 number to call immediately
if you got a page from one of these numbers.
Not to suggest that a big company is immune to UL's, but I'm thinking
maybe a major phone company would get this one right.
Remember that 99% of phone numbers in area code 809 are legitimate
residences, businesses, and government offices. It's the 1 percenters
you have to worry about.
-Bob "Why Did I leave Nassau?" Jones
> > Richard "AOL Sucks 'cause it doesn't quote messages in the reply sorry"
> So can't you cut and paste and put in little greater than symbols all by
> your lonesome?
> David "Just had to ask" Burnside
Yes but it was too damn much trouble.
Richard "formerly RichB...@aol.com" Brandt
"Ice on the Moon?"--Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1996
"How did it get there?"--Coleman Francis
>> He wanted to know if any of us had heard this one...
>> Richard "AOL Sucks 'cause it doesn't quote messages in the reply sorry"
>So can't you cut and paste and put in little greater than symbols all by
>David "Just had to ask" Burnside
Oh, you can quote if you know how.
A small lesson in how the phone network works and
why there is no such thing as an 809 number that works
like a 900 number, regardless of the laws in foreign
In the US, if you dial a 900 (or an 800 or a 500) number,
you do not have your choice of what phone company will carry
the call. It is automatically routed to the phone
company associated with that number. That phone company
can then render a bill to you for using its services.
In the case of 900 numbers, the rate per minute can be
arbitrarily large legally. For a while, some companies
that handled 800 numbers also billed the caller
or allowed the recipient to ask them to bill the caller.
In the case of 809 calls, they are carried by your
regular long distance phone company to the appropriate
country, where they are handed off to the country's
local phone company. The foreign phone company is
paid by your phone company for completing the calls.
The rate of payment is set by agreement between the
two governments. (The US State Department is currently
trying to get some of the rates paid to the Carribean
nations reduced.) You are billed by your regular
long distance phone company at its regular rates
for international calls (which is usually substantially
higher than domestic rates). There is no such thing
as an 809 call that is somehow magically routed
so that it doesn't go through your long distance
company (unless you deliberately dial a 10XXX code
in front of the number). The foreign phone
company does not bill
you for the call and has no input into how much
your phone company bills you.
So unless you believe that AT&T, Sprint, MCI, etc
are cooperating in the scam, there is no way an 809
call can be turned into a 900-like thing.
(AT&T until recently had to file tariffs and it
would be illegal for them to charge a non-tariffed
rate. All three companies have actively worked
to cut off calls to the scam numbers.)
Now, some people have reported $25 phone calls to
809 numbers. I certainly can believe that a 15 or
30 minute call can cost this much. I also believe
that when a boss questions an employee (or a parent
questions a child or a crusading consumer reporter
questions an angry consumer) about a $25 charge on
the bill, the employee says "I was fooled into
calling that sex talk line. I hung up as soon
as I figured out what it was! I couldn't have
been on the line for more than 30 seconds. Isn't
it terrible that they can charge $25 for just
half a minute!"
Yes, I read the Rat Dog column in the paper.
It is just plain wrong. Eric Zorn published
a column with real facts on 11/19/96 on page
1 of section 2 of the Chicago Tribune. Except
that he cited actual research with real phone
company officials and an actual bill for a ripoff
call. The other columnist cited no proof for
But still, I am willing to be convinced otherwise.
I have posted this challenge on many newsgroups
where this nonsense has surfaced and not a single
soul has replied in over six months:
Does anyone out there have an actual phone bill
that shows a call to the 809 area code that is
billed at any rate other than the normal international
rate to the county you called? Please write if
you do. (Keep in mind that international rates
are much higher than the 10 cents per minute
that you pay within the US.)
Is it possible that no one who reads
Usenet has ever been taken in by an 809 number
that works like a 900 number? Or does no such
There were a bunch of "adult services" lines that did this.
But the most famous example was MCI's national directory
assistance number that they promoted for a while (something
like 800-GET-INFO, I may have that wrong). After complaints,
it was changed to a 900 number. The readers of comp.dcom.telecom
experimented around for a while with an 800 psychic services
number that also billed for calls.
There is nothing special about the billing practices for
800-CALL-ATT. It has long been a practice of all phone
companies to bill back to the originating line if a fraudulent
call is placed (for example, a bill to third-party call
that the third party claims was not authorized) regardless
of whether the call was placed by dialing 0 or any
: 800-CALL-ATT (800-225-5288) will bill your
: line in a month or two if you used it in a fraudulent manner (ex. the
: person being billed for the calls you made tells AT&T they don't want to
: pay for them).
You're kidding me. I only use 800-CALL-ATT from a pay phone.
People would use that from a pay phone more often than not.
Don't these automated collect calls still require the answering party to
verbally accept charges? Is that not a binding contract?