12 On Your Side Alert: 809 area code scam

Published: May. 11, 2009 at 12:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2009 at 4:23 AM EDT
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By Aaron Gilchrist - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It comes as an urgent phone call... Or maybe even a text message, someone or something important to you needs your immediate attention.

In truth, it's a scammer who wants your money.

It's most commonly called the 809 area code scam.

You think you're making a run-of-the-mill long distance call... In actuality, you're running up international calling charges.

We already know that time...Is money.

Add a telephone to the mix and tricksters have found yet another way into your wallet.

We scoured the internet and found dozens of warnings about area code scams dating back more than a decade.

Here's how it works...

Check your cell phone for a text message...

Or your inbox for an email...

Even that flashing light your landline that says you have a message.

"what you'll read or hear on the other end may be something about a prize you've won... In other cases, it's been a frantic message about a sick or injured relative. Then they give you a number to call back."

In most case that number starts the 809, 284 or 876 area code... Typical u-s area codes, right?


809 connects you to the Dominican Republic.

284 is for phone numbers in the British Virgin Islands.

And 876 is the area code for Jamaica.

When you call you may get a long recorded message... The point is to keep you on the phone long enough to run up that bill.

So if you have Verizon for example, every minute that ticks by is costing roughly $4.

And you don't have a clue until the phone bill shows up in your mailbox.

Telecom expert have some advice...

Check the area code before you return a call to make sure you know where you're calling.

Carefully read your phone bill every month.

If you don't normally make international calls, ask your phone company to block those outgoing calls.

And finally, if you think you've been scammed, get in touch with your phone company and the federal communications commission.

The caller ends up connecting with a pay per call number and the foreign phone company and the scammer split your money.

Now this scam isn't as widespread as it used to be, but you should educate yourself.

To lookup area codes, visit

For more info on area code scams, visit

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