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SHSU Community Warned ofArea Code Scam

The Office of Students' Legal and Mediation Services is warning the Sam Houston Campus and the Huntsville community about a major scam that is costing victims thousands of dollars in damages.

The scam was brought to the attention of the legal services office through an e-mail by AT&T.

AT&T warns of a new "area code scam." According to AT&T, people are receiving messages through an e-mail, a page, a telephone call, or web pages that advises them to call an "809" phone number.

Scams, Schemes, & Some Simple Safeguards

According to industry experts, telephone fraud costs an estimated $4 billion each year. And, as our communications become more high-tech, criminals find new and even more sophisticated ways to defraud the unsuspecting consumer.

All consumers should be wary of fraud. The best defense against fraud is a well-informed consumer.

info. courtesy of AT&T

Targets are told that calling the number will give them valuable information regarding a family member who has been ill, to tell them that someone has been arrested, died, or to let them know they have won a prize. In each case, recipients are told to call the "809" number right away.

Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls, believing they are calling a number within the United States.

In fact, the "809" area code is in the Dominican Republic, where the area code is allowed to be used for pay-per-call services.

According to AT&T, pay-per-call services in the U.S. are required to provide a brief grace period during the beginning of a call, before a caller can be charged. Since such operators in the Dominican Republic are not subject to U.S. regulations, there are no such safeguards. The charges for these calls can be several dollars a minute or more.

AT&T reminds callers that it pays to pay attention to area codes dialed. Be vigilant to phrases like "international calling rates may apply."

"The best defense," AT&T advises, "is knowing where you're calling before you dial."

For more information regarding the "809" area code scam, visit this AT&T information page.

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SHSU Media Contact: Audrey Wick
March 5, 2002
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