Pay-Per-Call Scams

Scenario: You find charges on your phone bill for information or entertainment services provided through calls to 900 numbers, 800 numbers, or international phone numbers.
Scam: You never agreed to buy these services or authorized the charges.

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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.
 
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The service providers, not the phone companies that bill on their behalf, 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 most 800 number calls are free, charges can be made for pay-per-call services provided through 800 numbers if the consumer agrees beforehand. Fraudulent service providers try to claim that there was an agreement even though there wasn't.
 
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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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Be wary of faxes, pages, e-mails, and voice messages to call numbers that you don't recognize. Don't dial unless you know who and where you're calling. If you are not sure where a long-distance 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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Educate your employees about pay-per-call scams and implement firm policies about calling pay-per-call services and other uses of your business phone lines.
 
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The person responsible for paying your phone bills should check them carefully.
 
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If you question charges for 900 or 800 number pay-per-call services, 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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If you were duped into calling a foreign phone number, notify your long-distance company. While you are generally responsible for ong-distance charges, your long-distance company may agree to make an adjustment, at least on a one-time basis.
 
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You can arrange with your local phone company to block anyone from dialing 900 numbers on your phone. But blocking 800 number and international dialing may not be practical.
 
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Report pay-per-call scams to law enforcement agencies.

You can ask questions or report fraud using our online form.


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