Don’t Fall for the Area Code Scam

Ever heard of the Area Code Scam? It actually has various names, but it involves a trick to make you call an expensive long distance number.

Every few years, we begin hearing about an old scam that begins making the rounds. It has several names, such as the 809 Scam or the 876 Scam, but the numbers all refer to area codes that appear to be United States area codes.

They aren’t.

In fact, they’re overseas numbers that connect you to countries that share the +1 country code with the United States.

The scams basically have the same basic scheme in common: to employ some scenario that encourages you to call the mysterious number and wind up paying high long distance.

In one scenario, for example, someone calls you and hangs up as soon as you answer. You get frustrated and call them back to give them a piece of your mind or, at least, to find out why they hung up in your ear.

In another scenario, they call you and all you hear is someone screaming for help before the line goes dead. You might be tempted to call back to find out what’s happening.

There are versions that even send you text messages hoping you’ll call a number listed in the text to take care of some kind of presumed emergency.

Don’t fall for it.

Here’s some commonsense advice: If you don’t recognize the number, don’t return the call.

Forbes says calling certain area codes could result in charges of more than $20 for the first minute alone!

Inc. magazine took the warning a step further, listing foreign area codes within the +1 country code (which could make the number easily appear to be a U.S. number). I put those area codes in numerical order:

242 – Bahamas
246 – Barbados
264 – Anguilla
268 – Antigua
284 – British Virgin Islands
345 – Cayman Islands
441 – Bermuda
473 – Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique
649 – Turks and Caicos
664 – Montserrat
721 – Sint Maarten
758 – St. Lucia
767 – Dominica
784 – St. Vincent and Grenadines
809 – Dominican Republic
829 – Dominican Republic
849 – Dominican Republic
868 – Trinidad and Tobago
869 – St. Kitts and Nevis
876 – Jamaica

Inc. listed additional area codes for Canada and U.S. Territories that could also cause some surprises on your bill if you unknowingly call them. Check out that list here.

The big point is simple: you can avoid the Area Code Scam by simply not calling a number that you don’t recognize, or at least by double-checking the area code before you dial.

Have you ever received a number from one of these area codes?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.