NFIC Scamguy

Pager Scams

Scenario: Your pager shows a number you don’t recognize. There may be a message indicating a family emergency or an urgent legal matter. When you return the call you get a recorded message that has nothing to do with your family or a legal problem.
Scam: Later you find charges on your phone bill for an international call or a service you never authorized.

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Don't return the call to a number on your pager that you don't recognize. It may be an attempt to lure you to call a foreign phone number, a 900 number or an 800 number pay-per-call service, resulting in high charges on your phone bill.
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900 numbers, some 800 numbers, and some international numbers are used to provide information and entertainment services such as sports scores, weather forecasts, stock market updates, psychic readings, etc. The service providers, not the phone companies, set the charges. Fraudulent service providers trick people into calling their services without any agreement to use them or disclosure about how much they cost.
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While calls to most foreign countries require dialing 011, a country code, a city code, and then the number, calls to Canada and some parts of the Caribbean don't. They can be reached by dialing the same number of digits as in the U.S. So you may not recognize a number as foreign - until you get the bill.
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When you dial a foreign number, your local phone company connects you to your long-distance company, which connects you to the phone company in the country you are calling. That company connects you to the number you dialed. Part of what you pay for the call goes to the foreign phone company - and the scammer profits by arranging to share the revenue with the company.
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If you're not sure where a long-distance phone number is, call 00 and ask the operator or use the Area Code Look Up Service provided free on the Telecommunications Research & Action Center website.
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The person responsible for paying your phone bills should check them carefully.
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If you've been duped into calling a foreign phone number, notify your long-distance company. While you are generally responsible for long-distance charges, your long-distance company may agree to make an adjustment, at least on a one-time basis.
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If you were tricked into calling a 900 or 800 pay-per-call service without realizing it, contact the company at the number that appears on that portion of the bill. Also notify the telephone company that sent you the bill. Deduct the disputed charges while they are being investigated and pay the rest of the bill on time.
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Educate everyone in your business who carries pagers about pager and other phone scams.
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You can arrange with your local phone company to block 900 numbers from being dialed from your phone. But blocking 800 number and international dialing may not be practical.
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Report pager scams to law enforcement agencies.

If you need advice about a solicitation or you want to report a possible scam, call the NFIC hotline at 1-800-876-7060. You can also ask questions or report fraud using our online forms.


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