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How to protect yourself from common home phone scams

Summary

This article provides helpful information to help you protect yourself from a home phone scam.

Placing International Calls without Realizing It

It's not always easy to tell if you're dialing an international telephone number. In most cases, you have to dial 011 to begin a call to a foreign country. There are locations outside the U.S. where telephone numbers may look like domestic long-distance calls, but are actually international calls and in that case, international rates would apply. For example, 809, 284, and 876 are area codes in the Caribbean. There are many scams that deceive consumers into calling international numbers. You may see an ad for a service that directs you to call a specific number, or you may receive a page, an email message or an "urgent" message on your answering machine. All messages direct you to call a number for more information - almost always an international number.

Defense: Be cautious about making calls to area codes you don't recognize. Check your telephone directory or call the operator to determine where the area code is before making your call. Control access to your telephone so that unauthorized callers do not use your phone to call these services. A block on calls to 900 services will not stop calls to 011 (international destinations) or 809 numbers. If you're sure you won't need to make international calls, give us a call 541-382-5551 and we can put an international block on your telephone line.

Call Forwarding Scam

You may receive a call or message where the caller requests you to dial a 2-digit code preceded or followed by the * or # key (such as *79 or 72#), and then another phone number to claim some prize or help them connect to another party. This scam procedure actually programs your telephone to forward your calls to another number, possibly a toll or long distance number. Scammers can then call your number, be forwarded to the number you dialed and place calls that are billed to your home telephone number.

Defense: If you receive this type of call, simply hang up. If you receive this message on your answering machine, do not place this call.

Caller ID Spoofing

Scammers have been using new phone technology to manipulate caller IDs and to make customers believe that the call originated from a legitimate company's phone system. Scammers have also started using text messaging, instant messaging, and Web logs to send unsolicited commercial e-mails.

Defense: Always be extra cautious when giving out personal information over the telephone.

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