This morning I received an urgent email from a respected colleague alerting me to the not dial any phone number with the area code 809 as it would result in telephone charges that would exceed $2,000.00 per minute. Ouch, I thought. Two grand a minute for returning a phone call I don’t think so. I know this colleague would never intentionally send over a hoax, but since I was having a difficult time believing the information I decided to check out this claim and see what the real deal is.

Many of you may be aware that there are several websites available for free and unrestricted use that help you decipher truth from fiction. So I began with the all to familiar Snopes, followed by TruthOrFiction and a few other websites that publish information on urban legends and folklore. What I found was all the same: yes, using the area code 809 as well as a few area codes in some instances can result in higher than normal telephone charges and there are scammers who will leave a message enticing you to return the call by trying to connect with you on an emotional level. After all if you thought legitimately, your sibling has been in an accident or your long lost college room mate has hired them to find you wouldn’t you call back? Probably so. The scam begins with the voice mail; continues when you call in and converse as they try every tactic possible to keep you on the phone; and when you get the invoice from your phone company and write the check to pay for the telephone call time the scam for you ends.

The bad news here is that the scam exists; it began about fifteen years ago. It died down for a while but seems to be coming back around. Why? My guess is the economy; with the economic downturn people are trying to get you to part with your money and scams of all sorts are on the rise.  The good news is that if you get victimized you won’t loose your life savings paying the phone company, but your conversation will cost you about $95.00 – $125.00 per minute.

The reason you can be charged such exorbitant rates for dialing some 809, 284 and other area codes is because these numbers go to regions of the globe that are not regulated and do not require the call initiator to state that you may incur additional charges if you return the call.

How can you avoid becoming a victim? Know your caller: if you do not know the person who left the message do not return the call, simply ignore the message and delete it from your voice-mail. If you think there is a chance the call may be legitimate, first call Hunter Investigations at 770.667.7467 and have us investigate the situation for you. No problem is too small for us to handle; your peace of mind is worth the call to Hunter Investigations LLC.