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 Pricing Scams by the AT&T, MCI, Pac Bell and Dialfreecalls.com.

Nature of the Scam.
Undertaking massive advertising campaigns, promising low rates for both domestic and international calls, including low rates on phone cards but charging phenomenally higher rates in reality, never fixing the problem, ignoring the customer, and allowing no effective way for customers to reach customer service.

Example.
AT&T advertises 55 cents/minute  for calls to India. In reality, it charges over $3.25. What's more, even this rate varies from customer to customer  prompting one to wonder whether billing is entirely at the whims of the company. The fraud of this nature by AT&T is particularly rampant and Indians are specifically prone to falling prey to it. At the time of arriving in this country, they have little knowledge of the relative respectability of different telecom companies, and knowing that AT&T is large they infer by implication that it also must be honest.
There are innumerable examples of Indians having been ripped off this way. Read about some of the incidents here, courtesy www.path2usa.com.

Another example.
Here is a quote from one of the typically fraudulent advertisements by the AT&T. This one relates to domestic calls.

"We can now give you 5 to 7 cents per minute long distance rates to anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- no restrictions, unlike before. In addition, if you change over today, we will credit ALL transfer fees with your telephone company, and give you 60 free minutes per month anywhere in the U.S., in the first 3 months -- total, 180 free minutes."

In reality, they charge 82 cents per minute with a $3.00 connection fee. Find it unbelievable? Read all about it here, courtesy www.bestfrauds.com. This portal calls it "the biggest fraud of 2000".

What's particularly disgusting and infuriating is that they despite innumerable calls, letters, threats, petitions, they make it a point not to correct it, making one believe that all this is perfectly systematic and organized.

Similarly, MCI promises calls for 30 cents a minute to India, but in reality charges $1.19. Read about the expereinces of some of the Indians here, courtesy www.path2usa.com.

Fraud by Dialfree.com.

Nature of the fraud.
Dialfreecalls.com promises five free domestic calls worth 30 minutes each per month and low rates for subsequent calls. Visit www.dialfreecalls.com and see for yourself how convincing they appear.

In reality, they charge over $3 for domestic calls.

So members, please do not succumb to this red herring by this unscrupluous organization.

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Do
 The 809 Area Code Scam

Nature of the scam.
The "809" scams come in various guises but in a nutshell,  they all involve a message to you (either by email, phone or pager) asking you immediately call a number in the "809" area code to avoid some bad consequence (such as litigation, or to receive information about someone who has been arrested or died) or to gain some benefit (such as winning a wonderful prize).

The Catch.
The area code 809 belongs to the Carribean. People dialing this code do not know they are making an international call because the 809 code looks quite like a US area code. The rate charged is very high - reportedly over $25 per minute.  The person answering the call naturally keeps the caller engaged for as long as he can.

Students have been particularly susceptible to this fraud. Read about the experience of a student here, courtesy Rice University.


Members, please be very careful returning phone numbers to area codes you don't recognize, especially when you receive calls, emails or pages with urgent messages that you call these numbers. Call your long distance phone company's operator to find out where the area code is located (or look it up at www.555-1212.com), and only call numbers that make sense to you.

Listed below are some of the pay-per-call numbers in the Carribean we came across.

Please note
that the list is not exhaustive and they may be many more pay-per-calls numbers in the Carribean. Our intention is to apprise you with the scope of the problem.

Antigua / St. John
268-404-4000 to 404-6999
809-404-7411

Dominican Republic
809-404-4000 to 404-6999
809-412-0785 to 412-0787
809-412-0960 to 412-0964
809-414-1000 to 414-1499
809-470-0000 to 414-1949
809-474-0001 to 474-9996
809-476-0105 to 476-0112
809-476-0131 to 476-0135
809-476-0314 to 476-0319
809-476-1001 to 476-1020
809-476-1200 to 476-1229
809-476-1350 to 476-1399
809-476-1400 to 476-1446
809-476-1600 to 476-1629
809-476-1765 to 476-1796
809-476-1930 to 476-1999
809-537-0300 to 537-0899
809-540-5000 to 540-5199
809-563-0000 to 563-0199
809-563-0300 to 563-0699
809-563-9000 to 563-9199
809-563-9300 to 563-9899

St. Vincent
809-456-0000 to 456-9999
809-457-0000 to 457-9999
809-458-0000 to 458-9999
809-485-0000 to 485-9999
809-490-0000 to 490-9999
809-493-0000 to 493-9999


An additional pay-per-call number scam.

Nature of the scam.
Some 800 numbers reportedly roll over to "809" and other foreign "pay-per-call" numbers with little or no warning.

How it works.
You see an ad on the Internet or in a newspaper for an overseas job opportunity as a "secret shopper" or a "mystery shopper." You call the listed 800 number to either learn more or to apply for the job. You are left on hold for 15 to 20 minutes. You are either warned that the call is being rolled over to a toll call, or you're not warned. However, even when people are warned, they don't realize that the roll over is to an international, "pay-per-call" number. When you are finally connected, you're told all the positions have been filled. When you receive your phone bill, you have a very large charge.

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I have   
 Phone Scams Related to Downloads from the Internet.

Nature of the scam.
You are enticed to download software from the internet. Once the software is installed, it takes over the computer's modem, disconnects it from the existing ISP, and calls and connects to an international number all of course without the knowledge of the user. Before dialing, it mutes the computer's speakers, so you don't suspect a thing.

How it works.
People surfing the net come across advertisements at sites like www.beavisbutthead.com or www.sexygirls.com for "all nude all free" pictures. The catch? They have to download special Windows 95 software.

Once the software is installed in the home computer, it cuts off the local internet service provider, such as America Online or CompuServe, and dials a number in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, in Eastern Europe.

People continue to surf the Web, not knowing they have been switched to a foreign line at toll charges of $2 to $3 a minute. Even when they log off, the modem keeps the connection - running up the phone bill - until they turn off their computer.

Profits are shared between the Moldovan phone company and the scam artists.

Another downloaded related scam.

If you search the web looking for free internet access, you might come across an organization by the name "action" which promises free internet access provided you download their dialer.

On dialing using it, you are connected to a server in the country of Vantuatu. This server hosts adult entertainment sites.


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My 
 Frauds Related to Phone Cards.

Here are the results of a survey of phone cards conducted by Attorney General, Dennis C. Vacco, as reported by the Better Business Bureau.

"- Many prepaid phone cards do not disclose the information, especially information about their rates, necessary to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

- Of the 14 cards tested, most made express promises of substantial savings, and most failed to disclose the basis of the claimed savings.

- The quality of the service provided can vary dramatically among prepaid phone cards. Some cards provide excellent service. With others, consumers may encounter trouble connecting to their call or with the quality of the call. Still others charge for uncompleted calls or turn out not to work at all.

- There are also significant differences in the features provided by prepaid phone cards. Some cards provide no extra features, while others provide consumers with such benefits as the ability to proceed in different languages, speed dialing, the ability to be recharged to add additional value and protection against loss.

- Additional benefits often come at a price. The more features a prepaid phone card has and the more information it provides its users, the more expensive it tends to be."

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Would  
 Frauds Related to Free Phone Cards.

Nature of the Fraud.
You are enticed to give away your email address and other personal details (including possibly your credit card number) in return for free domestic phone card upto 50 minutes of calling time. 

The Catch.
The free card invariably never materializes. Instead, what you get is a barrage of emails and/or phone calls from marketers. 

Examples.
The following "free" phone cards are being advertised at the moment:
1. 50 minutes of calling time from YesFree.com
2. 55 minutes of calling time from 101FreeCalls.com
3. 5 free calls worth 30 minutes each per month from DialFreeCalls.com

The Reality.
1. YesFree.com asks you are asked to furnish your postal address, birth date etc. Once you have filled out the form, there is no mention of the card, simple as that. 
Check it out for yourself, here!

2. At 101FreeCalls.com, you are asked to supply your email address under the pretext of their sending to you a weekly e-zine containing "free offers and special gifts". Once you have given away the email address, you are asked to fill out a long survey (involving more personal questions) for five minutes of calling time! (We gave up at this point). For the remaining 50, it asks you, simply, to visit tel3.com (the latter is a genuine free phone card provider, though. Check it out in the free cards section.) 
101FreeCalls's gimmick is all for you to see, here!  

3. We have mentioned about DialFreeCalls.com earlier. In a nutshell, Dialfreecalls.com promises five free domestic calls worth 30 minutes each per month and low rates for subsequent calls. Visit www.dialfreecalls.com and see for yourself how convincing they appear.

In reality, they charge over $3 for domestic calls. Read about the experience of one of our countrymen  here, courtesy www.path2usa.com.

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      pumps  
 Things to Explicitly Watch Out for While Buying Phone Cards.
 
  • Date of Expiry.
    Many phone cards have an expiry date. Normally this begins the first time the card is used. You can call up to the value available on the phone card until you reach the cutoff date. Typically ranges are 14 days, 30 day, six months, or one year. Generally all unused minutes are lost when the card expires. (This is not always the case and on some cards lost minutes can be recouped by upgrading)

  • Billing Increments.
    This is the minimum call duration and the increment used to calculate the call cost. Typically calling cards have a one minute minimum. Beware the cards that have minimum times of two to three minutes. You should consider cards that have a 60 second minimum and have a low billing increment. Low billing increments start at 1 second.

  • Rounding up.
    Incomplete time increments are always rounded up to the next highest time unit. So if your time increment is 3 minutes and you make a 4 minute call - you will be charged for 6 minutes.

  • Surcharge.
    This is discussed above. For the sake of completeness cards that have a very cheap per minute rate often have a very high connection fee or surcharge. Making short duration calls with this type of card can be very expensive. You should use this type of card to make long duration calls particularly to International destinations.

  • Delivery charge.
    Calling cards come in three forms:-
    • 1)Actual plastic phone card
    • 2)Actual plastic phone card and an e-mail PIN
    • 3)PIN only (no plastic)

    There CAN be a delivery charge if you are going to get the plastic variety. Normally this is the USPS cost but it could be courrier charge. Do not buy low value cards if there is a delivery charge.

  • Finance Charges.
    You can pay for calling cards by all the traditional methods. Sometimes there is a financial charge - for example if you are buying a $20 card there is no point in paying a $15 charge for the privilege of paying for it by wire transfer. Do not buy low value cards if there is a finance charge. You will not be getting a bang for your buck.

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