Beware of a Phone Scam

Never ever dial back unless you recognize the number. Here is a scam  that is popular right now:

Someone receives a call, typically on a cell phone, from an international phone number that hangs up and leaves a “missed call” but no voicemail. If the receiver calls the number back, there will be an international connection fee plus a per minute rate. Some of these fees are $20 per call, plus $9 per minute. If you receive a call from a number that you do not recognize, do not call it back. The cellular carriers have advised us they are not waiving these fees as they view them as calls made by the customer.

4 thoughts on “Beware of a Phone Scam”

  1. And beware of India calling, where a voice says, “I’m calling from Telstra. I just wanted to check if everything is okay with your Internet connection.”

    I tell you, Telstra dig up the streets around my house, and on occasion I did not have connection for more than a week, without explanation. Even when I popped into a Telstra shop in the city, there was nothing they could tell me about the situation.

    But then suddenly India calls and in my guess it seems to want access to my computer.


  2. The telecom industry in the US created this problem decades ago (I seem to recall it being 1980’s) with “976” and “900” numbers as a way for questionable “businesses” to use the phone company as their accounts receivable department. Confusion has always been part of the business model for this type of scam. The “business” and the phone company split the take, so it’s part of the phone company’s business model, too. Very cynical.

    Now the confusion has been ramped up because there are some countries (all in the Caribbean, as far as I know) that are (1) within the “area code” system, so are reachable from the United States without dialing 011 and (2) use prefixes other than “976” to indicate “premium service” numbers.

    Throw in a new phone ecosystem in which most are cellular users, and almost all cell phones come with caller ID, combined with the fact that the 1980’s battles between consumer activists and phone companies (one outcome of this was the ability to block outgoing calls to “900” or “976” numbers) have been largely forgotten, and the conditions are right for a major fleecing of the public.

    It’s a shady business practice on the part of the telecom industry, and there’s no excuse for it existing.


    1. Not all the 900 numbers were “questionable.” NASA had a 900 number for updates on this or that space mission. I think it was mostly used by reporters, although I called it a couple of times.

      I also suggested to someone that a 900 number math tutoring service was a good idea. I don’t know whether anyone set one up or not.


  3. Come to think of it, the Naval Observatory had a 900 number (very precisely accurate) time announcement. This is now just an ordinary phone call to 202 762 1401, although with cellphones, it is rarely necessary.


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