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The 809 area code scam - placing unaware international calls

The 809 telephone scam is a deceptive practice meant to determine consumers to place an international call without knowing it, and incur high charges as a result. This is possible because, apart from the USA there are another 18 countries part of the North American Numbering Plan sharing the same telephone numbering format. Moreover, calling these 18 countries is no different than making a state to state call.

This practice is also known as "the 809 scam" because it often originates in the Dominican Republic, country that has area code 809 as part of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). However, as stated above there are no less than 18 countries with area codes just like the ones used in the US. A list of these countries can be found on http://www.howtocallabroad.com/nanp.html.

How it works:

  • You are asked via email, voicemail, or other communication means to call a telephone number for different reasons such as winning a prize, find out about your horoscope, and so on
  • As said above the number looks like a US number, usually beginning with area code 809, when it is in fact an international pay per call number meant to charge you for placing calls, just like 900 numbers in the US
  • The result: very high charges on your next bill

To avoid becoming a victim of the 809 scam:

  • Make sure you know what area code you are using; if you are not sure where you are calling here's a tool for checking area codes
  • An even safer solution for those who do not make international calls often is to block these type of calls (this is usually done by calling your service provider)