Scam Alert: Don't Be Tempted to Return Calls or Text Messages From These Scammy Area Codes
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Scam Alert: Don't Be Tempted to Return Calls or Text Messages From These Scammy Area Codes

If you don't know about this scam and how it works, you can find yourself in for a big surprise when your phone bill shows up with very large charges

November 22, 2019

Scammers are always looking for new ways to steal money from their unsuspecting victims. One scam still bilking its victims involves calling or texting from some kind of premium phone number, or one that will put charges on your phone bill each time you call or text back. It works very similar to how a 900 number works. But in this case, you don't find out about the high costs until it's too late.

Several Variations to how it works

  • In the one variation of the scam, thieves will call with called ID information that the victim doesn't recognize. Before the victim can answer, the caller hangs up. This may happen several times in a row. The curious victim returns the call and gets billed for it.
  • In some cases, the scammers don't hang up. Instead, a recording of someone crying for help is played before the call disconnects. In this case, the thieves are preying on your desire to help others and hope you call back. When you do, you're billed for it.
  • Sometimes you'll receive a text message from someone claiming to be in trouble and needing help. It's done in such a way to look like the person messaged the wrong number accidentally. Each time you reply, you're accruing charges.

Why is it so expensive

This scam is often called the "473 Scam" because criminals have used caller IDs with area code 473 in the past, although scammers use a variety of area codes to steal from their victims. Although this particular area code looks domestic, it's for the island of Grenada and several other islands that use the same country code (+1) as the United States. Calls made to numbers with this area code are international and can be very expensive.

suspicious International Area Codes

Unless you know someone living in these areas, it's best not to respond if someone tries to contact you from a number with one of these area codes. This list is not exhaustive, but they are some of the more common area codes used for this type of scam.

  • 242: Bahamas
  • 246: Barbados
  • 264: Anguilla
  • 268: Antigua
  • 284: British Virgin Islands
  • 345: Cayman Islands
  • 441: Bermuda
  • 473: Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique
  • 649: Turks and Caicos
  • 664: Montserrat
  • 721: St. Maarten
  • 758: St. Lucia
  • 767: Dominica
  • 784: St. Vincent and Grenadines
  • 809, 829, and 849: Dominican Republic
  • 868: Trinidad and Tobago
  • 869: St. Kitts and Nevis
  • 876: Jamaica

Protecting Yourself

The best thing to do to protect yourself is to not answer any suspicious phone call or respond to any unsolicited text message or phone call. If it's someone who sent to the wrong number, it won't matter. And if it's an important call, the caller will leave a voicemail message. Even if you don't interact and only answer a scam call, you're confirming to the scammers that your number is good and that you might answer. This opens the door to a barrage of future calls and text messages.