CCSO warns of area code scam

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2007

As if there aren't enough email scams and postal scams attempting to either gain people's personal identification information or get to their bank accounts, the Crenshaw County Sheriff's Office is warning people to be on the alert for an area code phone scam.

Crenshaw County Sheriff Charles West said that information provided by AT&T told him of how someone will call and possibly say, &#8220Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you. Get back to us quickly. I have something important to tell you.” The caller will then repeat a phone number beginning with an 809 area code.

The caller tries to get people to call by telling him or her that it is information about a family member who has been ill, or to say that someone has been arrested or died, or they say the recipient has won a wonderful prize.

In each case, residents are then told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes that have been recently distributed, many people will unknowingly return these calls.

According to the Sheriff's Office, anyone who calls from the United States could be charged up to $2,424 per minute. Callers might even get a long, recorded message. The reason for that is to keep the caller on the line as long as possible to increase the charges.

This, of course, could lead to an exorbitant amount of charges on a resident's phone bill.

The Sheriff's Office said that the 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands, or the Bahamas.

Since the resident has made the call from his home phone, the long-distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most likely say that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company, thereby leaving the U.S. resident stuck with a tremendous bill.

&#8220We want people to be aware of this phone scam and to take it seriously,” West said. &#8220Don't be taken in by someone sounding sympathetic who is trying to get you to call them back using this area code.”