Phone Scam Alert

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We have become aware through our contacts at Bell Canada that there is a
new phone scam on the loose that can cost unsuspecting customers over
$24,100. Please keep in mind that not all phone numbers with 80_ area
codes are free. Here’s how this scam works: You receive a message via
telephone, e-mail, or WebPage with the 809 area code attached. Telling you
that a family member is ill, someone has been arrested or died, or that
you have won a big prize, etc. Their objective is to keep you on the
phone as long as possible, since they are charging you $2,425 per minute.

This area code originates from the British Virgin Islands and is a
“pay-per-call,” much like the 900 numbers here in the U.S. However, since
it does not come from the U.S., there are no guidelines for charging
customers. If you fall victim to this scam, your long-distance carrier
will not be able to help you since they are just billing for a foreign
company. You would need to take it up with the foreign company; however,
they would insist that they have done nothing wrong. It would be an
impossible case to win since the phone companies have a legitimate record
of how long you’ve been on the phone.

You can help prevent being victimized by this scam by calling your
telephone operator to ask where the call originates from if you should
receive a message with a 809 area code. If you do not make or anticipate
making any international calls, you should call your long-distance carrier
and ask them to put an international call block on your telephone.

Check out http://www.att.com/fraud/home. html AT&T’s Web site for good
information on a variety of different phone scams. The Web site also
contains helpful hints for consumers.

Paco Durazzano
Young&Rubicam