Emergency cell phone numbers, area code scams, chain letters, phishing, and more: Internet ScamBusters #103
Today’s issue is our second Q&A. We have info for you on emergency cell
phone numbers, other area codes similar to the 809 area code, chain letters,
phishing, and more.
Before we get started today, we wanted to let you know about a brand new blog
that features Christmas gift advice from one of our associates.
It is called ‘Christmas
Gifts Advice‘, and features gift ideas, tips, and advice for an
exceptional holiday season – from Grace Galloway (aka ‘The Gift Guru’). Highly
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OK, let’s get going…
Internet ScamBusters Q&A
Question: I know you can’t answer individually, but can you print in your urban
legends section whether dialing *677 on your cell phone puts you in touch with
a police dispatcher? And if so, does that work anywhere or just in a specific
I had an email about this piece of info that just could save your life and don’t
want to pass it on if it is not true.
Answer: The most popular versions of this urban legend tell you to dial *77
Different states have different highway emergency numbers. For example, *77
works in Maine, #77 in Maryland, and *47 in North Carolina. We understand that
*677 will work calling the Ontario Provincial Police (from Ontario only), but
we couldn’t confirm this since we’re not in Ontario.
Note: Dozens of subscribers from Ontario
have emailed us confirming this information.
For a list of the highway emergency numbers in every state, visit:
For an international list of emergency numbers (not cell phone numbers), visit:
Question: Are there other codes similar to 809 where you can get scammed?
Answer: Yes, there are lots of them. You can find these additional area codes
similar to 809
Question: You guys are doing a great job with ScamBusters, I enjoy every issue.
Whenever I get what I think is a chain letter, I check it out at breakthechain.org.
Do you know of this site? Keep up the good work.
Answer: Yes, it’s a good site. We wrote about chain
letters two years ago in Issue #52 — it’s the first item.
Question: What is the meaning of "phishing"? I can’t find it in the
dictionary. Keep up the good work.
Answer: Phishing scams are done by scammers who send emails that look like they
come from well-known companies and banks (for example, CitiBank, BestBuy, PayPal,
AOL, etc.) in order to get the victim to surrender private information.
These scams are called phishing scams because scammers go fishing for your private
information (fyi: techies like to replace the letter ‘f’ with ‘ph’).
The scammer’s goal is to steal your credit card or bank info — or worse, your
The email directs the victim to a website where the victim is asked to enter
personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and
bank account numbers that the legitimate organization supposedly already has.
The website, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information.
There are many reasons the scammers give you to go to a fraudulent webpage to
‘correct’ the mistake, or validate or update your info. For example, they may
tell you that they found a charge that may be fraudulent, or that you need to
update your account information as part of a new security initiative.
These scams have gotten VERY sophisticated.
Advice: Never click on the links in these emails. They look real, but they go
to the scammer’s website. If you think there is any possibility the email is
legitimate, type in the home page of the legitimate website instead.
For more on phishing
scams, click here.
Question: Why don’t you reference Snopes.com? It’s a great source of info on
specific hoaxes. I hope it is not a turf war because both of your sites are
Answer: Snopes.com is a
great site. They are referenced on many pages of our site. They also link to
us. ScamBusters is a public service, and we appreciate everyone who has created
quality sites to reduce fraud, urban legend spam, viruses, spyware, and hoaxes.
Question: Does the Nigerian Scam ever come from Great Britain? Someone is making
me an offer that sounds just like it.
Answer: It comes from just about every country. Nigeria was just first — and
it’s still the most common.
That’s all for today. Wishing you a scam-free week.