Beware of Scam Calls To Your Phone From 809, 649, 284 Area Codes

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach on July 24, 2011

in Scams


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is warning landline and wireless consumers about scammers who are calling from what appear to be domestic phone numbers. The FCC  has recently learned that an old long distance phone scam that leads consumers to incur high charges on their phone bills may now affect wireless consumers. In the past, consumers have been fooled into making expensive international calls by scam artists who leave messages on consumers’ answering machines or their email accounts. The messages urge consumers to call a number with an “809,” “284,” “876,” or some other area code to collect a prize, find out about a sick relative, or engage in sex talk.

Wireless consumers are now receiving similar calls from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that appear to be domestic, but are actually associated with international pay-per-call phone numbers. While wireless companies are working to block suspicious numbers on their networks, some consumers may become victims of this scam.

Tip: Use a reverse phone lookup service to help identify a caller you are unfamiliar with before you return a phone call. For example, try http://whocallsme.com.

The Scam Works Something Like This:

  • Your wireless phone rings once or twice and then disconnects the call. When the number appears in your wireless phone log as a missed call, it appears to be a typical domestic telephone number starting with a “649” area code; or you get an email or voicemail (on your residential wired telephone) telling you to call a phone number with an “809”, “284”, “876” or some other three-digit international area code.
  • When you return the call, you assume you are making a domestic long distance call – as “649,” “809,” “284,” “876” and other area codes involved in this scam, appear to be typical three-digit U.S. area codes.
  • When you dial the three-digit area code plus the number, however, you are connected to a phone number outside the United States, often in Canada or the Caribbean, and are charged expensive international call rates, and may be charged for pay-per-call services as well. (In this case, “649” goes to the Turks and Caicos, “809” goes to the Dominican Republic, “284” goes to the British Virgin Islands, and “876” goes to Jamaica.)
  • You don’t find out about the higher international call rates until you receive your phone bill.

What You Can Do to Minimize the Risk of This Happening to You:

  • Check any unfamiliar area codes before returning calls.
  • Be aware that there are many 3-digit area codes (mostly in the Caribbean) that connect callers to international telephone numbers.
  • If you do not otherwise make international calls, ask your local or wireless phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.

Filing a Complaint with the FCC

If you are billed for a call you made as a result of this scam, first try to resolve the matter with your telephone company. If you are unable to resolve it directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an FCC online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554.

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete fully the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached;
  • the telephone and account numbers that are the subject of your complaint;
  • the name and phone numbers of any companies involved with your complaint;
  • the amount of any disputed charges, whether you paid them, whether you received a refund or adjustment to your bill, the amount of any adjustment or refund you have received, an explanation if the disputed charges are related to services in addition to residential or business telephone services; and
  • the details of your complaint and any additional relevant information.

Filing a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

If you feel that you are a victim of an international phone scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC online. You can also submit a complaint by calling the FTC toll-free at 1-877-382-4357 (voice) or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY), or writing to:

Federal Trade Commission
CRC – 240
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580.

For More Information

For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.


This Article Answered The Following Money Questions:

  • area codes to beware of
  • 809 cell phone
  • phone scams 284
  • phone calls from 809
  • phone call message the money coach
  • is there a charge to call area code 649
The following two tabs change content below.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach

Personal Finance Expert and Co-Founder at Ask The Money Coach.com
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach is a personal finance expert, speaker, and author of numerous books on personal finance. She appears frequently as an expert commentator on television, radio and in print.

Latest posts by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach (see all)

Mary H. Altizer

i’m wondering. this scam got me and i got billed for $2300. It all started with a voice message left that I needed to call Andrei as soon as possible. When i did, got different prompts until i got music playing and hung up. The bill came, i got charged for an international call. which i never did. when i disputed the charge, telcom seem to have made the process more difficult. anybody experienced something like this???

Corey Nixon

this article is true! the same thing happened to me, got a missed call, returned the call and did as the voice prompt intstructed. and after almost 15 minutes of instructions, i got music playing. it’s been about 20 minutes of music playing before i hung up. When my bill came, i got $3200 charge on it for a LONG DISTANCE CALL. see how tricky that is? and this telephone companies, they’re making it hard to file a dispute. if you come to think about it, who benefits from this scam the most? it’s the telephone companies, right? could they have started it? just wondering.

Previous post:

Next post: