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Dial 90# for Trouble

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... or maybe just a busy signal

    Billie Jean is the editor of Sandpoint Magazine and an inveterate writer and editor. She often sends me tidbits of things The River Journal can write about. This last week, she sent me the email regarding the 90# telephone scam.

    “I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T service technician who was conducting a test on telephone lines,” the email begins. “He stated that to complete the test, I should touch 90#, and then hang up. Luckily, I refused.”

    Why luckily? The email explains that a call to the phone company gives you the information that pressing 90# gives the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which they can use to bill long distance calls to your number.

    I saw a red flag waving when I read, “The GTE security department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW!”

    Online etiquette (yes, there is such a thing) suggests that the use of all capital letters is the cyberspace equivalent of shouting. I don’t like being shouted at, and I don’t trust warning messages that use all caps.

    So I checked it out on David Emery’s website. Sure enough, this is another “popcorn” warning—a small kernal of truth surrounded by a whole lot of hot air.

    Dialing 90# can indeed give someone access to your phone lines… but only if it’s a business line that requires you to dial 9 for an outside line, and then doesn’t ask for a code to call long distance.

    Makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, any of us who work for businesses that require dialing 9 for an outside line can understand how this scam can work. Trouble is, there’s not too many businesses these days who allow employees to make completely unregulated long distance calls—you must usually dial in an access code so the calls can be tracked.

    Unless your personal phone requires you to dial 9 for an outside line, you’re safe from this scam. And if you work for a business, beware—dialing 90# and then your access code will certainly allow a scam artist to access your long distance. Duh.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

urban legends, telephones, dial 90#

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