Dialing wrong numbers can cost you a pretty penny!
Fraudsters refer to it as “Fat Finger Dialing”. It is a scheme in which unscrupulous vendors purchase phone numbers that are just one or two digits different from legitimate numbers.
It starts when people start dialing wrong numbers that they think are the phone numbers of their bank, a business or the IRS. But instead, they actually accidentally dialed the wrong toll-free area code. The trick is easily pulled off by scammers taking advantage of all the toll-free area codes like 800, 866 or 888.
Imposters are buying up massive amounts of toll-free prefix phone numbers with the identical seven-digit number of a legitimate company, but with a different 3-digit toll-free area code.
Most major companies and Government Agencies use toll-free prefixes, so that consumers can call them without incurring long distant toll charges. Fraudsters are taking full advantage of this by replacing 888 or 866 prefixes with the actual legitimate 800 toll-free number of a company, a vendor or a Government entity.
So, when people dial the correct seven digit number, but misdial the area code, they are being spoofed by a scam artist. The person on the other end of the line is an imposter who is impersonating the real entity you thought you had called.
Their goal is to mislead you into giving up your personal or financial information. Callers may be told that they are eligible for a survey or that they won a prize. Some offer low-cost medical devices, magazine renewals, insurance plans, travel packages, etc.
And this is all legal as long as the person at the receiving end of the call, doesn’t misrepresent themselves by saying that they’re affiliated with the entity the consumer intended to dial. If you initiated the call, then your call is exempt from Telemarketing and “Do Not Call List” rules.
- Always double check the phone number you are dialing to be sure it’s correct.
- Always hang up the phone if the operator doesn’t mention the company or organization by name and begins to solicit you with products or asks for personal or financial info.
- Be wary of freebie offers or claims of being a prize winner – but are first required to provide your payment information or asked to pay with a gift card or pre-paid debit card.
- Never provide your date of birth, social security or medical ID number over the phone to anyone.
- Make copies of the front and back of your debit and credit cards so you have the correct toll-free numbers on them, if the card is ever lost or stolen.