Opinion: Warnings about "area code 809" inaccurate, ineffective


Warnings have been issued about a scam in which people receive messages to call a phone number in area code 809, that turns out to be an international call and may therefore have relatively high rates. The FCC and the FTC have failed to take measures to directly address this problem or to effectively educate the public about their options.
Starting about 10/96, word went out about a scam in which people received a message to call a phone number in area code 809. At the time, calls to area code 809 could have gone to any one of several countries in the Carribean, but the particular phone number involved was in the British Virgin Islands. As such, any calls placed to this 809 phone number would have been billed at international rates.

There were several problems with the reports of this scam:

In spite of the FCC and the FTC throwing up their hands at this problem, there's something that most consumers can do to protect themselves against this problem: if you don't have much occasion to call the Carribean, contact your long-distance company and ask them to block such calls! Will they do it? Some will, some won't. I spoke to AT&T and MCI, and they said they offered some form of international blocking. Sprint customer service said they did not have such a service. Call your own phone company and then let me know what they tell you, and I'll post the information here.


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