At least once a month I receive a question from someone that received a warning e-mail, panicked and forwarded that same message to fifty billion friends and myself. Generally, the request is to make sure we and all Cap Rock Internet subscribers know about it. The e-mails are always hoaxes or extremely exaggerated, at least all the ones I have ever gotten. However, just in case one of those e-mails, someday, is legitimate let’s say 99.9 percent of them are hoaxes. This way I cover myself in case you ever do get a real one.
The forwarded messages almost always say “This is real, I checked with insert source here” Never take their word for it, you don’t know the original perpetrator of this e-mail. In fact, this is a big neon sign telling you it’s probably fake. Do your own checking and I’m not talking about links in the e-mail, web pages are easily doctored. One of my favorite places to verify authenticity is snopes.com. Let’s use an e-mail I received today as an example of how to verify authenticity.
EXAMPLE – The E-Mail:
I just went to the website below. And it is on AT&T website……Wow and checked out on Snopes.com
Subject: DONT DIAL AREA CODE 809 , 284 AND 876
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION PROVIDED TO US BY AT&T. DON’T DIAL AREA CODE 809
This one is being distributed all over the US . This is pretty scary, especially given the way they try to get you to call. Be sure you read this and pass it on. They get you to call by telling you that it is information about a family member who has been ill or to tell you someone has-been arrested, died, or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls.
If you call from the US , you will apparently be charged $2425 per-minute or, you’ll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you’ll often be charged more than $24,100.00.
WHY IT WORKS:
The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas). the Dominican actually
The charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That’s because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You’ll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong.
Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam
What Snopes says:
Claim: Unsuspecting phone customers have been gulled by scam artists into placing calls to area codes in the Caribbean that result in hefty charges.
Status: Real fraud, but its usage is rare and most victims are taken for only a small amount of money.
The full article can be found here.
So the claim is real to an extent, however it is greatly exaggerated instead of a whopping $25,000 phone bill you are hit with a $25 to $100 charge.
As my favorite cartoon used to say “Knowing is half the battle!”